Some Lucky Numbers Prove Unlucky for Maryland Lottery

Your lucky numbers are sometimes unlucky for the coffers of the Maryland lottery.

A series of notable winning numbers for Pick-3 games created a surplus of winners recently, making a dent in state lottery earnings. The impact was so significant that state officials were alerted during an October meeting of gaming officials, according to public records obtained by the News4 I-team.

The string of recent winning numbers -- all of which are popular plays by Maryland lottery players -- are "triple-digit" entries. The winning Pick-3 combination drawn Sept. 4 was 6-6-6.

The lottery reported paying out nearly $2 million in winnings to players from that day. It's a financial loss for the Maryland lottery agency, because only $330,000 in tickets were sold for that drawing.

Two other "triple-digit" Pick-3 winners were drawn in the latter half of 2015.

A winning 9-9-9 combo in Dec. 1's Pick-3 drawing cost the state $750,925 in payouts to players. The lottery took in only about $286,500 in sales for that drawing.

In August, a winning 7-7-7 drawing cost Maryland about $1 million in winnings, when just $304,000 in sales were made for that drawing.

Members of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission were formally notified about the financial impact of the series of "triple-digit" winners at an October meeting in Baltimore.

Maryland Lottery Director Gordon Medenica told commissioners the agency's "sales and revenues are still affected by unusual numbers being drawn in the Pick-3 and Pick-4 games causing large payouts."

"When unique combinations are drawn in Pick 3 and Pick 4, our players are the big winners," a spokeswoman for the Maryland Lottery told News4. "While we might feel the fiscal impact of those popular numbers for the day or week in which those payouts occur, the long-term impact to the Lottery's bottom line is negligible."

Medenica told the I-Team that Maryland sells about $10 million in Pick-3 and Pick-4 entries each week. Profit, he said, can vary widely.

He said Maryland's coffers can earn as much in $5.8 million in profits on Pick-3 and Pick-4 sales some weeks. During other weeks, the state loses $900,000.

"These swings smooth out over time," Medenica said.

State lottery officials referred News4 to a recent Baltimore Sun report, which said the agency discontinued sales of 6-6-6 entries in the Pick-3 on June 6, 2006, or 6/6/06.

The report said the number was so popular with players, the state would have been liable for an enormous payout had sales continued and had those numbers been drawn.

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