Lottery Winner Convicted ...
Can California Join Mega Millions?
Can New York Continue to Participate in MM?
Plus two really cute editorials ...

Just point and click ...

Originally Posted: March 27, 2005

Links to all winners stories found on LottoReport web site, Click here

Before you buy that next scratch ticket ... Click here

Comments in blue italics by Dawn Nettles, The Lotto Report

Scratching a state's itch
By Steve Damish, Enterprise Metro Editor

I know how the state can fund education reform, fix the Big Dig, pay for universal health care and even have enough left over to cover Charlie Lincoln's retirement.

$100 scratch tickets. Heck, why not $1,000 tickets?

I'm surprised I didn't think of it sooner.

Note to Treasurer Tim Cahill: You can use this idea free of charge if you promise to keep your cheesy mug --- and the cheesy mugs of your executive directors who have nothing to do with the people who win --- out of the publicity photos. That, and I'd like one of those $55,000 jobs that people such as Brockton city councilors get for calling convenience stores and making sure the scratch tickets are okay. Deal?

Anyway, people will buy these tickets. That's because: A. Everyone's miserable (which the Lottery constantly reminds us in its advertising), B. Everyone's poor (a result of buying too many scratch tickets) and C. Everyone's on the verge of picking up a baseball bat and slugging the next person he sees (a result of having never won on a scratch ticket).

It's true.

People will buy anything that gives them a shot at winning a million dollars --- even though it's paid in 20 annual installments, less taxes, less the $100 a week for more scratch tickets, less the pain of having to pose with a stuff-shirt Lottery executive director.

There are two keys to making it work --- make the tickets big, and the prizes bigger. It's that simple.

That's why the $10 tickets are so popular. For starters --- the ticket is twice the size of a $5 ticket. But you're not getting anything extra --- in fact, if this were food, it would be like paying twice as much for the same size sandwich (hint: you should try spending your scratch ticket money on a sandwich --- it's more rewarding).

Of course, this means the $100 and $1,000 tickets would have to grow --- to about the size of Tom Finneran's forehead, or your average doormat.

"Would you look at the size of this ticket," the scratch ticket buyer would think. "It's the size of Tom Finneran's forehead. I'm bound to win."

There would have to be big prizes as well. The higher-priced tickets sell because they offer the huge prizes, even though the chances of winning are slim.

Did you know, for example, the average man has a better chance of being hit by lightning while skinny dipping with the cast of "Desperate Housewives" than winning the Lottery?

It's true --- just click on the Lottery web site and read the small print, which says: "The average guy who wastes his money trying to win on these tickets has a better chance of being hit by lightning while skinny dipping with the cast of 'Desperate Housewives' ---- or in the case of lesser-priced tickets, the cast of 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' "

Actually, it says your chances are 1 in 6,480,000 at the grand prize. Same thing.

Doesn't matter --- all the players see are the prizes. Here are some I have in mind for my new tickets:

Grand prize: 1 billion dollars (given in 200 annual payments, less taxes, less fees for the attorneys who have to fend off the suit from your co-workers who said they told you to buy the ticket, less the cost of divorce court, and less the body-guard protection for your kids at school because now the bullies REALLY want their lunch money.)

After the grand prize, in keeping with the Lottery's cheapskate tradition, the other ones would trail off dramatically, and probably be something like:

Second prize: A "slightly used" Corvette. This would be one of those cars that someone won in a previous scratch-ticket contest and crashed three times because they had no right driving a Corvette.

Third prize: $100, or lunch with Tom Finneran.

But people will still buy these tickets, thinking that lightning will strike, and maybe they'll be skinny dipping with the "Desperate Housewives" cast when it does.

But this is the Lottery, not fantasy --- and the Lottery is a reality show, complete with thousands of contestants who don't mind if everyone sees just how dumb they really are.

To read this story online, click here.

Don't save your coins for Mega Millions lottery just yet ...
State lawmakers question whether CA Lottery Commission
has authority to join multistate game

By Steve Geissinger, SACRAMENTO BUREAU
March 25, 2005

SACRAMENTO - California's millions of gambling enthusiasts, anxious to beat the incredible 1-in-135 million odds of winning the coming multi-state Mega Millions jackpot, may find some of their least favorite politicians crushing their dreams of fabulous riches. (Correction. When and IF California players begin participating in the Mega Millions game, the odds will be 175 million-to-one.)

The chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee has asked the Legislatures attorneys for an opinion on whether the state Lottery Commission has the authority under the state constitution to join the Mega Millions game later this year.

If the commissions authority is questionable, the matter may be put to a test in the Legislature, lawmakers said Thursday.

Sen. Dean Florez, D-Bakersfield, said he believes there are more questions than answers about the California lottery's plans to join the three-year-old Mega Millions.

In Mega Millions, players pay $1 to pick six numbers from 1 to 52 to match those drawn twice weekly. Bets are currently pooled from the states of New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington. (The press in California nor the People of California have any idea that when they start playing Mega Millions - if they do - that they will be picking five (5) numbers from a pool of 56, one (1) number from a pool of 46 numbers and the odds will be 175.7 million-to-one.)

A Mega Millions jackpot shattered records when it hit $363 million in May 2002, while the competing multi-state Powerball's largest jackpot has been $315 million. California's biggest jackpot has been $193 million.

The languishing California lottery, which voters approved in 1984 to benefit public education, decided last month to link its operation with Mega Millions in hopes of fostering unprecedented U.S. lotto-mania and new national record, near-half-billion dollar jackpots.

But earlier this month, Florez held an informational hearing on the California Lottery Commissions decision to join Mega Millions.

In the wake of that hearing, his aides disclosed Thursday that the senator - known for his troubleshooting of California's thornier problems - requested a formal opinion from the Legislative Counsels Office on whether the lottery-authorizing constitutional amendment allows the commission to make such a unilateral move.

A spokesman for the legal office declined comment, saying the opinion, when completed, will remain confidential. The senator may choose to make it public or not.

Florez spokeswoman Jennifer Hanson said that if the opinion questions the Lottery Commissions authority, it may lead to legislation.

The Legislature - which ranks poorly in popularity polls - would be fighting an uphill battle, however, in trying to block California's entrance in Mega Millions.

Such legislation would go to popular Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has appointed an administration troubleshooter and former lottery director - Chon Gutierrez - to oversee the games again. If the matter wound up before voters, polls indicate solid support for many types of gambling in California.

Gutierrez said the Schwarzenegger-appointed Lottery Commission clearly has the authority to make the change and is moving ahead.

We haven't picked a date yet, but it will be soon, he said.

Florez also has pointed to statistics showing that ticket sales in some states have gone down after they joined Mega Millions.

But Gutierrez said the change is aimed at improving overall, long-term lottery sales, which have remained flat at about $1.9 billion to $2 billion annually for the last four years. That's less than 2 percent of the education budget in deficit-plagued California.

Lottery officials said that adding a major new game is the only way to increase sales, which tend to periodically stagnate or fall off.

Florez and other lawmakers argue that players will be less excited about the Mega Millions game when they learn that the staggering odds of winning are 1-in-135 million, compared to 1-in-41 million under California's SuperLotto Plus.

The state plans to continue its SuperLotto Plus, though sales are expected to decrease with the introduction of the larger Mega Millions. But officials predicted overall lottery sales in California will rise. Proceeds from the new game would be divided as lottery income is currently.

By law, schools get at least 34 percent of the state lottery's proceeds. At least half of sales must be used for jackpots and up to 16 percent can go to administration.

Contact Sacramento Bureau Chief Steve Geissinger at

Major Changes in NY Gambling Possible

March 21, 2005

Hundreds of millions of dollars in state revenues and the future of gambling in New York State were on the line Monday in Albany.

The Court of Appeals, the State's highest has been asked to declare the spread of VLT's and casinos unconstitutional. Even the future of Mega-millions is unclear.

The court of appeals heard arguments starting at three Monday afternoon. It is expected the appeals court will announce its decision sometime in May.

How 'bout that ... Texas and all other states have already signed a new Mega Millions contract. The new Mega Millions contract states that IF any state withdraws, the terms in the agreement "shall" NOT terminate. Do you realize that this means that we're stuck with the same NEW 175.7 million-to-one odds even if NY pulls out? These lotteries will do anything to see to it that no one wins until they've sold hundreds of millions of tickets in a weeks time.

By the way, you should know too that New York sells more MM tickets for each and every draw than any other state. However, the New York Lottery is only in second place for having the highest per capita sales ... while the Texas Lottery has the second lowest per capita sales.

By the numbers
Making it harder to win may be best for all involved.

Concord Monitor
March 24, 2005

Powerball ticket sales pick up strongly when the jackpot hits $100 million, our local storekeeper says. But his machine doesn't hum all day long until there's $200 million at stake or potential players hear the magic words "record jackpot."

Crazy? Of course. Even for those who dream large, how much different will life be after winning a $200 million jackpot instead of a measly $100 million? Yet size does matter. According to the Multi-State Lottery Association, a $14 million pot might lead to only $11 million in ticket sales while a $250 million jackpot will convince people to wager $210 million.

So to keep the pots sweet, the 27 states that participate in the Powerball drawings keep decreasing the odds. When the game was launched, a buyer of a ticket had a one in 54.9 million chance of being a big winner. In 1997, the odds were raised to one in 80 million. In 2002, they went to one in 120.5 million.

But son of a gun, people kept winning - six big winners so far this year alone. So jackpots stayed small and the money stayed in shoppers' wallets.

To pry them loose, lottery officials are thinking of making the game even harder to win. It pains us to say we hope they do, even though buying a lottery ticket is a sucker's bet.

But don't be fooled by that bit about the money going for education. New Hampshire schools don't really see any extra cash if lottery ticket sales are robust. Sweepstakes revenue is not an addition to money otherwise earmarked for education. It's a substitute for cash that would have come from the state's general fund.

That said, it's hard to argue with the numbers. Big pots mean big money for states, New Hampshire included. And the long odds of winning the prize don't seem to matter one whit. "You could put a sign over my door that said, 'Guaranteed $200 million jackpot - just correctly pick 500 numbers in the right order,' and people would buy the tickets," our storekeeper said.

So as much as we hate the idea of lower odds - we too pay our tax on dreams and buy tickets - it would probably be for the best.

Consider, after all, the fate of Jack Whittaker, the god-fearing, upstanding, West Virginia owner of a sewer pipe laying business. In 2002, Whittaker became the winner of the largest single jackpot of all, $314.9 million. Since then, he has reportedly been arrested for drunk driving, robbed once, almost robbed again by several employees of a strip club called the Pink Pony, sued for sexual assault and driven to distraction because a beloved relative used the winner's newfound wealth to develop a crack habit.

So go ahead, make all of us dreamers and suckers check a few more boxes. Making the odds of winning longer just might save us from ourselves.

Lottery millionaire Zell convicted in fatal crash

Duluth News Tribune
Associated Press
Mar. 14, 2005

MINNEAPOLIS - A woman who received millions of dollars from her ex-husband's Powerball winnings was convicted Monday in connection with a crash that left one person dead and another paralyzed.

Victoria Ann Zell, 45, was found guilty of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation for her role in last summer's accident that killed Joshua Smith, 30, of Stillwater, and injured Amity Dimock, 31, of Minneapolis.

According to the charges, Zell was drunk and had been using cocaine and methamphetamine at the time of the crash.

On Monday, a Hennepin County jury also found that there were aggravating factors that justify an upward departure from state sentencing guidelines. Specifically, the jury found that Zell endangered multiple individuals while driving and she blamed others for her conduct.

Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said prosecutors will seek a double upward departure, or eight years in prison, when Zell is sentenced April 22.

In December 2001, Zell's estranged husband won a $10.9 million cash option Powerball jackpot. Zell received a portion of the proceeds in the couple's divorce. The actual amount Zell received was not disclosed, Klobuchar's office said.

Thank You San Antonio College Students For Explaining
175 million-to-one Mega Millions odds. WOW - what analogies
they came up with! Also included ...
What would your life be like if you won hundreds of millions of dollars?
Click here.

Texas Lottery Denies Cheating Lotto Texas Winners
But excerpts from Commission Meetings refutes the TLC claims
of innocence. The complete story including a winners complaint letter
to the DA. (Special note to those winners who called inquiring about
the way you were paid - your suspicions. I've included a spreadsheet
that includes the rate that was applicable at the time of your win
so you can now figure out if you received your full amount.
) Click here.

What is Problem Gambling? Click here.

Real Life Examples of Gambling Related Crime and Corruption. Click here.

Sad but True Winners Stories (1), Click here

Read story about a Texas $31 million winner
who committed suicide (1999). Click here.

Sad but True Winners Stories (AOL), Click here.

One Winner - One Loser - What a story.
Everyone should read this one.
Three other stories
include an interview with a winner, a news story
regarding the Oct 13 Lotto Texas machine malfunction
and the huge sales decline for New York's in state
Lotto game since joining MM.
Click here.

Store Owners and Employees Admit Stealing
$100,000 Powerball Ticket ...
Don't let this happen
to you. Click here.

Canada Has A Gambling Problem. And so will Texas.
Governments hooked on gambling. Here's WHY we need to oppose
expanded gambling in Texas and why the TLC turns me OFF.
Click here

About that 2005 Texas Lottery Demographics Study.
See what the "real" truth was! A Texas Tech Study. Click here.

Thank You Dallas Morning News ... Their study of lottery sales
by districts confirms who really plays the games of Texas. Click here.

Just point and click ...

The Lotto Report
Dawn Nettles
P. O. Box 495033
Garland, Texas 75049-5033
(972) 686-0660
(972) 681-1048 Fax