Local residents can buy chances in "Lotto America," the new multistate lottery game expected to have jackpots in the tens of millions of dollars, from D.C. lottery agents starting Feb. 3, and drawings will be every Saturday night starting Feb. 13.
The District will join six states -- Oregon, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, West Virginia and Rhode Island -- in the new game, whose jackpots will begin at $2 million and grow each week as long as bettors fail to hit the winning numbers. Participants will bet $1 to pick seven numbers from 1 to 40.
The weekly drawings will be taped in Des Moines at 10:59 p.m. EST each Saturday and transmitted by satellite to six other television stations for live broadcast here and elsewhere.
"The potential for this game is tremendous, and we're excited it's coming together," said Dana Shelley, D.C. lottery's spokeswoman.
The D.C. lottery board has contracted with WJLA-TV (Channel 7) to broadcast the drawings. WTTG-TV (Channel 5) also bid but did not win the contract. Shelley declined to give specifics about the losing bid or the reasons for the choice of Channel 7, except to say that officials considered a range of issues in the bids.
The first drawing will be held on one of the first nights of the winter Olympics, which lottery organizers hope will increase its ratings.
Under the one-year contract with WJLA, the city will pay the station $175,000 for on-air promotion and other services.
The game's organizers, representing the lottery agencies of the participating jurisdictions, said they would not place a maximum on Lotto America's jackpots. Earlier, the organizers had announced they would limit the jackpot if it reached $80 million, out of fear that larger jackpots could be seen as excessive and generate negative publicity.
The D.C. lottery will continue its existing Lotto game, which has drawings Tuesday and Friday evenings.