Dear Texas Legislature: Please Protect The People of Texas
Posted: Monday, May 9, 2005
Revised: Thursday, May 12, 2005
(Added link so you could find your legislator)
Last week I testified before the Licensing & Administration Committee. The
purpose was to comment on HB1434 - the bill that will keep the Texas Lottery
in existance for the next 12 years. The message below was sent to a number of
Texas Legislators to reinforce what I asked them to do for us last week.
You can watch this hearing if you want - then select the
May 4, 2005 broadcast. If you go watch the hearing and IF you agree with
me, may I suggest that you send an email or fax a request to your legislator -
you can find him/her and their address and phone number on this same web site.
Dear Chairman Flores & Members:
I wanted to share a Detroit News story with you. (Below my message) It's about the upcoming changes to the Multi-State game - Mega Millions - an issue I covered with the Committee last week.
As I explained, Texans do not want games that are harder to win and they don't want jackpots that require huge losses prior to being won. No one person needs to win $500 million at the expense of so many losers. Yet this is what the TLC is preparing to give the People of Texas.
Proof of what Texans want is evidenced by Mega Millions sales. The TLC projected Mega Millions FY05 sales to be $399.8 million. As it stands today, FY05 sales are currently at $123.5 million. They have 4 months remaining in FY05.
Since giving Texans the "unwanted" Lotto Texas matrix of 47.7-million-to-one odds in May 2003 ... I'd like to give you a short re-cap. There have been 210 Lotto Texas draws and only 13 jackpots have been won. They have just conducted 29 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner. Wednesday's jackpot will only be $59 million -
The first 210 draws under the unwanted matrix brought in $852.1 million. The last 210 draws under the old matrix brought in 1.1 Billion. The TLC goes against the wishes of the People and it is costing the state potential revenues.
Adding Mega Millions was NOT the reason for Lotto Texas' decline. There were 61 draws prior to starting Mega Millions under the new Lotto Texas matrix. Sales for those 61 draws were $258.7 million compared to $333.9 million for the last 61 draws under the old matrix.
Reagan Greer told you the other night that Texas made the right choice in joining Mega Millions. I don't know how he figures Texas made the right decision since Texans have not embraced the game as is evidenced by sales. Everyone at the lottery "really" knows that Mega Millions sales are a huge disappointment to the executive staff and our low sales have been a shock to the party lottery states.
What's worse is that Tuesday (5/10/05), the Commissioners are going to adopt the new Mega Millions rule making the new odds an astronomical 175 million to one. This is a 30% odds increase but sales will NOT increase by 30%. Sales will plummet as Texans do not want this kind of game nor does anyone think jackpots of this size are justified or needed for any game.
Please don't forget what I told you about this new rule ... the TLC signed a contract to stay in the MM group with the games changes THEN proposed a new rule. The information given to the people about the proposed rule failed to disclose what the new odds would be. The reason they didn't disclose the odds was to keep from getting negative comment.
This was another done deal yet they'll claim they considered comment or didn't get much as they proceed to adopt the new rule.
Under these circumstances and past actions, why would anyone bother to comment?
Reagan told the Committee the other night (5/4/05) that California MAY be joining Mega Millions. There is no MAY about it. California issued a press release on April 12 telling the People of California that they would be playing Mega Millions in June - The release quoted the new odds. Here is a link to California's press release.
A state lottery is a very good way to raise money but the state must give the players the games they are willing to play - something the TLC won't do. They've done nothing but go against the wishes of the People since 2000 resulting in the "bottom line" declining - IF the legislature would like to see a more successful lottery, then someone needs to listen to the People of Texas and someone needs to protect the people of Texas.
When Texans voted for a lottery, we "thought" the Legislature would write legislation to protect us. Such protection should include legislation that guarantees that 50% of sales is returned to the People, cap the odds of the online games to never be greater than the population of the state, computers could not replace balls and machines as computers can not generate "random" numbers, require valid ID's to prevent minors from gambling, offer reasonably priced lottery products ($20, $25 & $30 tickets is hardly reasonably priced). Additionally - prevent the TLC from wasting taxpayer money (see CBA - In house security vs independent firms; SST purchase; office rent; advertising bids vs actual costs; out of state legal expenses & employee turnover rate - costs to train new employees.)
No one ever dreamed that the lottery and/or state would cheat players out of their share of the revenue, use questionable documents to adopt rules, offer games of chance with unreasonable odds of winning, continue to sell scratch tickets for 6 weeks with known validation errors & misprinted tickets, promote staff who not once but twice abused his state issued credit card. (Recently that person was promoted to oversee the drawing studio and ticket validations. Why? Could it be because he has no conscience and will cheat on the upcoming computerized draws that people oppose or convince people that their ticket is not a winner?) Finally, the Texas Lottery has falsely advertised and lied to the People of Texas.
Who would have dreamed that the state would sell products to the general public but not offer consumer protection for 13 years?
I feel strongly that the time is NOW to fix these problems. HB1434 and/or SB405 is the way to do it.
Thank you for allowing me to speak. Scroll down to read the newspaper story that appeared in the Detroit News about the "new" Mega Millions game.
With California in, Mega Millions jackpots will balloon
By Gene Schabath / The Detroit News
May 8, 2005
With California joining the Mega Millions lottery, jackpots have the potential to reach $500 million. California, the Golden State, will bring a lot of green to the Mega Millions Lottery jackpots when the state joins the multistate game next month. That's green as in greenbacks.
Mega Millions Lottery officials expect jackpots, under the right circumstances, to reach a staggering half of a billion dollars, said Michigan Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters.
"With California in, the computer model says there is a high probability of a $500 million Mega Millions jackpot," Peters said. The largest Mega Millions jackpot was $362 million in May 2000. Shelby Township swimming pool cleaner Larry Ross won half of the pot, $181 million.
California will become the 12th state to join Mega Millions on June 22, with the first drawing under the new alignment on June 24.
California's population of 35 million is one reason for the projected mammoth jackpots. Adding four more numbers, from 52 to 56 to the main field, is another reason. That will increase the odds of hitting the jackpot from one in 135 million to one in 178 million, Peters said.
"That means jackpots will grow bigger and faster," Peters said. "We will see more $200 million jackpots like the $208 million jackpot (won by a Michigan couple) we just had."
Mount Clemens business broker Chris Kelly of Utica doesn't like the new arrangement.
"That's insane," said Kelley, a regular lottery player. "It's getting out of hand. Only one person will win the big jackpot like that. They should divide up the big jackpots."
Even the consolation prizes will hit mega proportions under the new format, Peters said. Second-place money will be increased from $175,000 to $250,000 and third-prize money from $5,000 to $10,000.
Clinton Township used car dealer Bob Bartolomucci likes the bigger secondary prizes.
"That's the only reason I play Mega Millions -- to win the second-place money," he said.
Attention Texas Players - Act Now!
Also included on this page are more winners
stories including two stories regarding
computer glitches. May 13, 2005. Click here.
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