The State Lotteries

Interesting But Sad
News Stories

Originally Posted: July 15, 2002

Thank you for sharing these postings with me. And yes, I think
all my
web site visitors will gain insight by reading these
stories. These are "perfect" examples of the
evil that
can be caused by money. It's called "greed."

Personally, I wish the stories weren't true.

1st Story - "A Lotto Trouble Over Money"

2nd Story - "Players Weigh In: Lottery
Payout Reduction Could Cool Sales"

3rd Story: "Powerball To Under Go Changes"

(You can also just scroll down the page ...
all these stories are on this page.)

As It Appeared In The ...

San Antonio Express-News

A Lotto Trouble Over Money

By Sonja Garza
San Antonio Express-News

Web Posted : 07/12/2002 12:00 AM

The multimillion-dollar question being played out in a Bexar County
courtroom is who bought the winning Lotto ticket.

The way Mary Oliver sees it, she and Terry Como were living together
as man and wife the day Como and his brother went to Austin to
collect the $12.5 million lottery jackpot nearly two years ago.

If the winning ticket was bought with the couple's "community" money,
Oliver contends, she's entitled to her fair share of the Lotto loot.

The way Como sees it, he never was married to his ex-girlfriend.
They simply lived together. And furthermore, it was his brother who
bought the winning the ticket, he contends.

"Terry was not the winner. It was not his money. It was not his
ticket," said attorney Michael Black, who represents a limited
partnership that Como's brother, James Como, set up
to claim the Lotto prize in November 2000.

Oliver now is suing her former live-in, his brother and the
limited partnership called One Red Rider. The suit, filed May 6,
also seeks a divorce. The pair is now separated.

"Whatever was acquired during the marriage, she thinks she's
entitled to it," said Oliver's attorney, Stanley Bernstein.

Attorneys for the partnership and Terry Como said there's
no doubt his brother James purchased the ticket bearing
numbers 49-24-54-02-04-53.

Texas Lottery Commission records show the prize was claimed
by the One Red Rider partnership, and that both brothers were present.

After discovering he won, James went straight to the bank to put the
ticket in a safe deposit box, Black said. He then contacted an attorney
to form the partnership with himself as a 99 percent
owner and Terry a 1 percent owner, Black said.

The partnership was strictly for tax purposes, Black said. James soon
bought out Terry's 1 percent for more than $90,000, he added.

The case is set for trial Sept. 9.

At a pretrial hearing this week, a manager at the store where the
winning ticket was sold testified he reviewed videotape from the shop's
security camera back in November 2000 to try to determine who
could have bought the lucky numbers. The employee initially said the
tape showed Terry buying a ticket during the timeframe
in which the winning one was sold.

But during cross-examination, he testified he could not say for sure which
brother came into the store that day. The video since has been erased.

According to Bernstein, Oliver and Terry Como lived together from
summer 1999 until their breakup in August 2001. Although there was
no wedding ceremony, the couple were married by common law, he said.

In Texas, there's no distinction between a common-law marriage
and a ceremonial marriage, Bernstein said.

"It's the intent of the parties, whether it's consummated and whether
or not you held yourself out (as married)," he said.

Bernstein said there's no doubt that the couple were married.

But in a May 23 hearing, Como testified he never agreed that they
were married and never represented himself to anyone as her husband.

The 43-year-old nurse countered with her own testimony, saying that
Como is listed as her husband on her health insurance, acted like a
stepfather to her daughters and even proposed with a wedding ring.

Como, a 47-year-old mechanic, characterized it as an engagement ring.
His attorney, Charles Hardy, also contends Oliver filed income tax returns
as a single person for the past several years.

"She's never filed as being married to Terry," he said, adding that Oliver
was married three previous times and always changed her last name.

Hardy called Oliver's suit groundless and frivolous.

"I think this whole case is about money," he said. "I think this whole case
is about her trying to take James' money."

- End Story -

As It Appeared In The ...
The Patriot Ledger

The Patriot Ledger

July 09, 2002

Players weigh in:
Lottery payout reduction could cool sales

Lottery players say it would be a big mistake to reduce jackpots
as a way to bail the state out of its financial problems.

‘‘It’s hard enough to win money already,’’ said retired Braintree
native Bob Kearney, who taught in the Boston schools for 37 years.
‘‘If there’s less payout, I’ll just go to Foxwoods and play blackjack.’’

Budget writers on Beacon Hill are taking a second look at
a proposal to reduce the payout on state Lottery prizes.

Some, however, worry that skimpier jackpots may discourage some
Lottery players and hurt sales, cutting into an important source of
state aid to cities and towns.

Resendes Provision on Washington Street in Braintree sold nearly
$2.7 million in lottery tickets last year, but yesterday afternoon
customers said they would buy fewer tickets if the prize money is reduced.

A Resendes clerk, Eric Muise, 36, said lower payouts would
discourage his lottery customers.

‘‘If there is less payout, the lottery will lose its appeal,’’ he said.
‘‘People will start to think it’s like a carnival game you can’t win.’’

At Joe’s Place on Centre Street in Quincy, Robert Smith, 50, a roofing
and water technician, bought lottery tickets yesterday. The Plymouth
native said he would cut back if less money were up for grabs.

‘‘I will play less,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ll spend $5 a week instead of $40.’’

Theresa Mulrooney, 42, a Quincy homemaker, handed a wad
of lottery tickets to a cashier at the 7-Eleven on Franklin Street
in Quincy yesterday. She said the state already takes too
much money from lottery customers.

‘‘This money is from my own payroll,’’ she said. ‘‘If they
were taking more, I wouldn’t play as much.’’

Proponents of the idea say they’d rather see lower Lottery
payouts than tax or fee hikes to balance the state’s budget.

‘‘It’s a more painless way to raise revenue than to sock people
with the largest increase in taxes and fees in state history,’’
said Sen. Robert L. Hedlund, R-Weymouth.

Acting Gov. Jane Swift first proposed lower Lottery prizes
in January, saying there’s no reason for Massachusetts to
have the highest payout percentage of all state lotteries.

Massachusetts returns 71 percent of every $1 spent on Lottery
tickets in the form of jackpots. Swift proposed lowering
the average to 63 percent to save $274 million for local aid.

While Swift and Republican legislators have championed the idea,
Democratic leaders remained skeptical. Some, however, are
revisiting the idea as budget negotiations continue.

‘‘The more we look into it and the more the revenue numbers decline,
I think the more justifiable it is to at least adjust (the payout rate),’’
said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford.

A compromise may emerge to lower payouts by a few percentage
points - as opposed to Swift’s proposal of 8 points.

Sen. Michael W. Morrissey, D-Quincy, said Lottery
payouts could be reduced less than 8 percent.

‘‘You might be able to tweak it a couple of
percentage points,’’ he said.

Critics of reduced payouts cite the example of Texas,
which tried the idea only to see sales plummet from $3.7
billion in 1997 to $2.5 billion in two years. Even after
jackpots were restored last year, sales still have not recovered.

‘‘We have the most successful state lottery system in the nation,
which turns the highest level of profit back to the cities and towns,’’
said Charles Rasmussen, a spokesman for House Speaker
Thomas Finneran, D-Mattapan. ‘‘To start playing around with
that historically has not been to the benefit of lottery systems.’’

It’s also unclear which tickets would be affected. Currently,
scratch tickets carry the highest payout - up to 80 percent.

‘‘Nobody’s put a proposal on the table which says how to do
this,’’ said Jon Tapper, a spokesman for the state treasury, which
operates the Braintree-based Massachusetts State Lottery.

Others disagree.

‘‘I find it incomprehensible that someone won’t play the
state Lottery because we have the fifth-highest payout instead
of the top payout,’’ Hedlund said. ‘‘I don’t see it
impacting players’ habits.’’

Tom Benner may be reached at
Will Hurwitz may be reached at

- End Story -

Powerball to undergo changes
starting October 6, 2002.

(My comments are in blue italics.)

Beginning October 6, Powerball will undergo several changes, in order to
grow jackpot sizes, account for a larger player base as new states are added, and
to more effectively compete with rival multi-state lottery Big Game Mega Millions.
Powerball's twenty-two states, plus the District of Columbia,
will make the following changes:

The number pool will increase - players will choose five numbers from 1 to 53
(instead of the current 1 to 49), plus one number from 1 to 42 (unchanged).
(They are doing this to make winning harder - But it's already hard enough!)

Annuity period increased - The current 24-year annuity period (25 payments)
will be increased to 29 years (30 payments), which will have the effect of
increasing the annuity jackpot, while making payments to a jackpot winner less
each year than they would be under the current annuity structure.

Unclaimed grand prize and new bonus prize funds will be distributed among all
participating lotteries in proportion to each lottery's sales for the grand-prize drawing.
(So ... the people build the pots and if a ticket is not claimed, then the
states share the jackpot. This money should be returned to the players -
the states already get their share.

The power play option will have a multiplier ranging from 2 to 5
(instead of the current 1 to 5). All power-play prizes will be paid in
single, lump-sum payments.

Jackpot prize increases will be limited to $25 million between drawings.
For example, if there is no winner of a $50 million drawing, the next drawing
will not be higher than $75 million. A new bonus prize will be accumulated consisting
of all money collected in excess of the advertised jackpot amount
until there is a grand-prize winner.

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