Proposed Changes For Pick3 ... They "Shall" Start No Later Than Dec 31, 2006! ("2006" Is NOT A Mistake)

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Posted - Sunday, January 28, 2007 - 1 PM
Revised -

A New Daily 4 Game - Read Details
Click here

About the Proposed Changes to Pick3
(The Commissioners voted to withdraw this rule on Feb 21, 2007)

During the Commission meeting on Dec 13, 2006, the TLC asked the Commissioners to 1) approve changes to our Pick3 game and 2) to approve adding a new game called "Daily 4." They had two new rules ready for approval.

As always, the Commissioners approved both requests. The newly proposed rules (Pick3: 401.307; Daily 4: 401.316) appeared in the Dec 29, 2006 edition of the Texas Register.

The approval of both rules was, in my opinion, a HUGE financial mistake for the STATE.

Clearly, it's the legislature who should oppose the addition of the Daily 4 game but the legislature has no idea what the "real" impact is or will be - they were told they would see an increase in revenue. This will not be the case ... these changes will have the same results that previous online game changes have had. In previous rule changes, I've explained WHY the state would lose. But no one listened, they continued with the changes and the state LOST money just like I said they would.

With these proposed changes, I'm keeping quiet about their losses because I no longer care if the state loses potential revenues on its online games - BUT - I do care about issues that affect players. WE expect full disclosure regarding the game and WE expect the rules to be fair. There ARE issues in the proposed Pick3 rule that fail in these areas.

I am going to explain these issues to you even though the Commissioners should NOT adopt the Pick3 rule as written. This is because the posted rule, the writing we're allowed to comment on and was directed to by the TLC, states that the "start date shall" be made no later than "Dec 31, 2006."

That date has already passed. For this reason plus a few others, the proposed Pick3 rule should be withdrawn and re-proposed. Changing the "start date" in the posted rule should be considered a "substantive" change - in my opinion.

Like many of you have already said, "why comment when it's already too late for the changes to take effect."

In the proposed Pick3 rule, there is conflicting language, there is no mention of a percentage of sales that is allocated to any prize pool, they do not state the odds of the game, the "real" costs to play the game is not fully disclosed or clear and they do not show a percentage of sales that is being allocated for each prize category - a major factor since there are so many prizes that can be won with these changes.

Before I get started - Let me say Thank You ...
Before I get down to the nitty gritty, I want to thank all of you for responding to my email when I requested your opinions regarding the proposed changes. You told me exactly what I thought you would.

Summary of Pick 3 proposed changes ... Following this section are problems with the proposed rule ...
The Texas Lottery is proposing to add another bet to the Pick3 game. It's called "Lucky Sum." The "Lucky Sum" bet is simple to understand and is or could be a pretty good concept, however, the payouts and requirements to play Lucky Sum are less than desirable.

The "Lucky Sum" bet is ... you can bet on the "sum" of the three numbers that will be drawn. The sums range from 0 to 27. As you know, the three digits drawn for Pick3 can be 000 to 999 so the sum of 0 to 27 covers all possible combinations.

The bet is simple - you simply add the three digits drawn and IF you put money on the "lucky sum" bet and IF that sum is drawn, irregardless of it being the numbers you actually played, then you win your Lucky Sum bet. The prize amounts for the Lucky Sum bet are less than desirable though.

Example: If you bet 50 cents on the sum of 13 and if the 3 digits drawn equal 13, you win $3. However, your "real" costs to play is more than 50 cents because they will not let you play just the Lucky Sum without making another bet.

If you bet $1, you win $6. However, your "real" costs to play is more than $1 because they will not let you play just the Lucky Sum without making another bet.

Lucky Sum prize amounts for a 50 cent bet vary from $3 up to $250. This is because some sums have many ways (combinations) to equal a sum where some sums have fewer combinations.

Example: The sum of 27 - there's only ONE way to make the sum of 27 and that is if 999 is drawn. If you bet 50 cents on the sum of 27, you would win $250.

For the sum of 26 - there's only one combination of numbers that equal 26 too. It is 899, 989, 998. If you bet 50 cents on the sum of twenty-six, it only pays $83.

For the sum of 0 - there's only one combination that equals 0. It is 000. For an additional 50 cent bet, you would win $250.

For the sum of 1 - there's only one combination of numbers that equal 1. It is 001, 010, 100. For an additional 50 cent bet, you would win $83.

The sums of 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 - which is what the majority of numbers drawn equals - pays $3 for your additional 50 cent bet. The sum of 9 or 18 pays $4.

I'll post the prize amounts for you when and if they start Lucky Sum Feature for the Pick3 game.

To see all combinations that equals each and every sum (0-27), click here. I've had this posted for a long time.

FYI - 999 has NEVER been drawn in Texas - day or night draw.

Very important to keep in mind - To play the "Lucky Sum," you have to have made another bet. You can't play the Lucky Sum feature without making another bet so you will spend at least $1 to play.

If you play Exact/Any/Lucky Sum and you choose "50 cent play," your ticket will cost you $1.50. That is 50 cent for each bet ... the "exact" bet, the "any" bet and the "lucky sum" bet.

As for the Pick3 prize payouts that we were accustomed, specifically the $40, $80, $250, $290, $330 &, $500, they "told" me they were the same, however, there is conflicting language with respect to the prize amounts so I can NOT tell you that they will really be the same when they implement the changes.

Not Exactly True ... I specifically asked what other states offer a Lucky Sum feature. I was told that no one was doing it and Texas would be the first to offer the Lucky Sum Feature. WRONG, wrong, wrong. New York is launching this feature in February for their "Numbers and Win 4" games!

During the Commission meeting, staff told the Commissioners, "Unless somebody beats us to it, we should be the first state to launch this feature." At the time this statement was made, it is obvious that NY had already proposed it. Either G-Tech mislead the TLC or the TLC mislead the Commissioners and me.

Changes and Corrections That Should Be Made To The Pick3 Proposed Rule ...
NOTE: Much of this applies to the Daily 4 game rule too

1) The posted for public comment rule says - "(2) The executive director shall determine a start date for ''Lucky Sum'' play. The start date shall be no later than December 31, 2006. Otherwise, the executive director may allow or disallow any type of play described in this subsection. Currently available play types must be posted on the commission's web site."

The Pick3 proposed rule was approved on Dec 13, 2006 and the Ft. Worth Star Telegram ran a story about the upcoming changes. This story resulted in many of you seeking information - the 2006 implement date caused consumers to think it was to late to comment. As usual, another done deal by the TLC.

2) They added a paragraph to the Pick3 rule that says, "G (2) A person may win only one prize per play per drawing. A player who holds a valid ticket for a winning play is entitled to the highest prize for that play."

Gee, sounds like if you bet "exact/any/lucky sum" and win all three bets, you will only receive the highest of only ONE of your 3 bets.

Then just a few short paragraphs later, it says ...

"G (11) - A person who holds a valid ticket for a winning Lucky Sum play is entitled to a prize as shown. A Lucky Sum prize is in addition to a prize, if any, for the exact order play, any order play, exact order/any order play, or combo play to which the Lucky Sum play is connected."

The sentence added (G2) is included in the Cash5, Lotto Texas and Texas 2 Step rule. Its purpose is to let people know that if they match 5 numbers, they won't receive the prizes for matching 3 and 4 numbers as well as the match 5 prize. This is not the case when playing Pick3 unless you're betting "combo."

The G2 sentence should be omitted and if it's not, then players BEWARE - it appears we may not receive prize payments for all the bets we make and the TLC can interpret the rule any way they want.

3) The rule says, "(10) A person may select numbers for a play by: (A) using a self-service terminal." The problem is that you can no longer "select your numbers" using a self service terminal - they changed self service terminals to require playslips and they will print Quick Picks. If you put money in a self service terminal, you cannot get it back should you not have a playslip ready. This statement is misleading for anyone who reads the rule.

4) The rule fails to state the odds of the game. A very significant deletion and one that should be spelled out and made public. I can't imagine a rule that fails to tell the odds of a game.

5) The rule does not specify that there is a prize pool. Another very significant deletion. During the Commission meeting, they spoke of the prize pool being 50% of sales but it's NOT written in the rule. Why not? They didn't include it in the Daily 4 rule either.

Now why do you think they left this percentage out of the rules? They deleted it because the Pick3 has NEVER returned 50% of sales on an overall basis even though the rule said that the prize pool shall be 50% of sales. By not saying anything regarding a prize pool, they are deceiving the public. They made it very clear to the commissioners that the prize pool was 50% but failed to include it in the rule for the People of Texas. This is called "deceit by omission."

FYI - Last year the Legislature, State Auditors Office and the Sunset Commission told the TLC to guarantee a set percentage of sales that would be returned to the people. With these rules, the TLC is failing to do what they were told to do.

The Pick3 game is the states best money maker but this will change when these rules take effect. There's only one way to guarantee us our share of sales and that's by offering pari-mutuel prizes. I can assure you - most of the time - players would be better off IF the payouts were pari-mutuel.

6) The rule doesn't allocate a set percentage of sales to be paid out for each prize category like all other rules do - the Lucky Sum payouts are varied and complicated. A set percentage of sales for each prize category should be stated for the purpose of audits and so they'll know what to increase or lower to give a fairer return of sales (50%) to players.

7) Currently one can play the Pick3 for as little as 50 cents total cost - For that 50 cents spent, one can win $40 on an "any" bet, $80 on an "any bet" (double digits), $250 on an exact bet, or $330 on an exact bet (double digits).

Yet the new rule won't let you play the Lucky Sum by itself for 50 cents. They are increasing the cost to play the game. They fail to recognize that players love to play for "just 50 cents." It was an attraction - an appeal - to play the game yet they are adding a feature than can't be played for 50 cents.

Just think - Under the new Pick3 rule, you will be able to spend $1 to win $3 now. Isn't this an exciting change? <big grin>

8) "Combo" Prize Chart very deceptive/misleading - Pick3 players, and only Pick3 players, know that if we bet "50 cent combo," it is going to cost us a minimum of $1.50 or $3 for our "50 cent" bet.

For a "$1 Combo" bet, the "real" costs are $3 or $6.

The "Prize Chart" included in the rule for the "Combo Play" is deceptive or misleading to anyone who reads them - particularly the TX Legislature. Here's how the chart currently reads and below it, I'll show you the "real" costs in my "picture" ...

As It Appears In Proposed Rule
Pick3 Prize Chart
Combo Play
Pick 3 Base Play Amount Prize
$.50 $250
$1 $500
$2 $1000
$3 $1500
$4 $2000
$5 $2500

This looks like people are spending a minimum of 50 cents up to $5. Far from true! The phrase "Base Play Amount" is as deceiving as the word "FREE!"

Here's how the chart/picture should read to be VERY clear for anyone who reads it - particularly members of the Texas Legislature and I'll include the Commissioners who don't understand the game either. I'd be willing to bet that the Commissioners have no idea what the Combo bet really costs players.

As It "Should" Appear In The Rule
Pick3 Prize Chart
Combo Play
Pick 3 Bet Amount Cost of Ticket Prize
3 Way 6 Way
.50 $1.50 $3 $250
$1 $3 $6 $500
$2 $6 $12 $1000
$3 $9 $18 $1500
$4 $12 $24 $2000
$5 $15 $30 $2500

People depend on pictures - they pay more attention to pictures than they do the written word. Pictures should say the same as written words but the TLC's pictures fall short of spelling things out.

For those of you who are confused by the varying costs for the "combo" bet amounts, it's because Pick3 combinations are either "3 way" or "6 way" bets.

3 different digits like 368 is a "6 way" bet and costs 6 times the "base play amount." 368 can come 6 ways - 368, 386, 638, 683, 836, 863. If you bet "50 cent combo" on this number, it will cost you $3. However, if those numbers are drawn, you'll win only ONE of your six bets. You've lost the other 5 bets.

Double digit numbers, like 668, are 3 way bets. 668 can come ONLY 3 ways - 668, 686, 866. If you bet "50 cent combo" on this number, it will cost you $1.50 - three times the "base play amount." However, if those numbers are drawn, you'll win only ONE of your three bets. You've lost the other 2 bets.

There are triple digit combinations like 000, 111, 222, 555, 999 but you cannot bet "combo" on triple digit numbers. Triple digit numbers are EXACT bets.

I have always said that the TLC is not consumer friendly and when it comes to allowing players to bet $5 is one clear example of them not being consumer friendly. Why? Two reasons - (1) you have to go to a claim center to collect anything over $599 (don't forget - they've reduced the number of claim centers making it even more difficult for some players to collect) and (2) you are forced into claiming your winnings on your tax return because they issue a W-2 G at the time you collect.

Advice For Pick3 Players: Don't bet $2, $3, $4, and $5 on a set of numbers. There is a "repeat" key on the terminals that clerks can use to run multiple tickets for the drawing. I realize few retail clerks know how to use the "repeat" key on their terminals but some do so find one that does OR fill out a playslip and ask the clerk to run it 5, 10, 20, 30 times so you can avoid going to a claim center to collect your prize and you can avoid that W-2G. Remember, you can collect from retailers any amount under $599 - you may have to go to several retails to collect - but its worth it!

In Summary - The comment period ends today - and yes, I know it's Sunday. And yes, I know too that ya'll couldn't find details on the TLC web site about the proposed Daily 4 game and the changes to Pick3. The TLC was told to make PROPOSED rule changes highly visible but they didn't.

No press releases have been issued and no editorial can be found on the TLC web site explaining it in layman terms. The TLC provided a link - that's extremely hard to find - to the Texas Register. They expect you to go read the LEGAL rule and figure it out by yourself.

Again I'll say, the TLC is NOT consumer friendly! They don't want your comments, they won't listen to the People.

With a few exceptions, the TLC is hurting the state of Texas more than they are hurting players with these changes. I was in no hurry to post the details.

I will, however, fax my comments in so they will AT LEAST know not to adopt the rule as written ... and I want it on the record that the rule contains conflicting/incorrect/deceptive language, no prize pool, no odds, no prize allocations, plus anything else that I mentioned earlier.

If anyone is compelled to comment, you can email or fax ((512) 344-5189) a comment today. It appears they want to know your full name, address, city, state, zip, phone number and email address should you comment. You have until midnight to make comments on both the Pick3 and Daily 4 rules.

If you have comments for me, send them to I will NOT submit them to the TLC.

Daily 4 Game - Read the Details
Click here (Will be posted later today)

Comments - E-mail Us
Comments for the TLC - E-mail Them