The new D.C. Double instant lottery is proving more popular than the city's first lottery game, with ticket sales 10 percent higher over the first three weeks, lottery officials said yesterday.
About 7.8 million of the 30 million tickets planned for the game have been sold so far, according to lottery officials.
The D.C. Double is the second game in the city's first venture in legalized gambling in 75 years. In it, as in the first instant lottery, players have about a 1-in-10 chance of buying a winning ticket, and 46 percent of the gross revenues are awarded in prizes, substantially less than in other forms of legalized gambling.
The remainder of the revenue from the game goes to the city treasury (30 percent), to ticket agents (6 percent, or six cents for each $1 ticket sold) and to cover operating expenses (18 percent).
Gloria A. Decker, general manager of the Games Production Inc., the company hired by the city to run the lottery, attributed the success of the new game to an increase in the number of ticket vendors (up from 700 to more than 1,000 since the first game started in August), the public's increasing familiarity with lotteries and the doubling of the instant prizes on some tickets.
"It's little bit more exciting," said Decker, the former executive director of the New Jersey lottery. "People are certainly more aware there's a lottery. They're looking for the star [which doubles the amount of the prize when two like numbers show up on a ticket] and they're talking about what they're going to do when they win."
D.C.'s experience so far with instant lotteries parallels that in some other states, where officials have found that relatively short games lasting for two or three months hold the public's attention better than extended games. The first D.C. game, in which 19.1 million tickets were sold, lasted from Aug. 25 to Oct. 20. The D.C. Double began Oct. 27.
Robert Denz, executive director of the New Hampshire Sweepstakes, said that sales of instant lottery tickets increased in his state for the first two years after they were introduced in 1975, then fell off and now have risen again in the last two years.
"The first year they're out, they're very popular," he said. "Then you've got to come out with some new strategies." He said surveys have shown that New Hampshire players particularly like instant games that have a sports-related format, such as scratching off quarter-by-quarter football scores to beat a designated number.
In New Jersey, however, the instant games have proven less popular than a variety of state-sponsored daily numbers games, similar to those planned by the District for next summer.
Maryland sold a total of nearly 55 million tickets in two instant lottery games in the past year, but currently is operating three variations on numbers games in which players pick their own number in the daily game or buy computer-printed numbers. In either case, they then must wait to see if their numbers are drawn before knowing whether they are winners.
"No plans are on the boards for another instant game," said Maryland lottery director Martin Puncke. "The administration [of Gov. Harry Hughes] feels it's not necessary to run an instant game at this time to produce the revenue."
In the D.C. Double game, 11 players so far have won the top instant prize of $20,000, while another 52 such tickets have yet to be cashed in or sold, Decker said. A total of 29 people have won $10,000 and 97 such prizes remain. After the D.C. Double game is completed, there will be another drawing in which two people will win $1 million each.
Lottery officials finished plans yesterday for a drawing today to determine the first-game lottery players who will be eligible to win two $1 million prizes and lesser amounts.
The names of 3,121 people who won $100 in the first game will be placed in a large drum in front of the District Building, and current and former city officials will draw 20 names, starting at 10:30 a.m. The million-dollar and other winners will be chosen from that group of 20 in a second drawing Tuesday night.