Newest Pa. lottery scratch-off sports $30 pricetag

The Pennsylvania Lottery earlier this week launched its most expensive instant lottery ticket, a $30 scratch-off that offers a top prize of $3 million.

The game, appropriately called “Three Million,” is already in place at many of the places that sell instant tickets. It is the state’s third $20 or more instant prize game offered at 9,100 retailers statewide.

So far, local lottery players have been slow to try the new game.

“I think $30 might be a little expensive for a scratch-off,” said Dario Hilton of Coatesville, who recently won $200 in an instant lottery. “I think it depends if the risk is worth the reward. If it offers more prizes, then it’s a possibility, otherwise I’ll stick to the $10 game.”

The prizes that can be won in this game are: $30, $35, $40, $50, $75, $100, $250, $500, $1,000, $30,000, $300,000 and $3,000,000. The prizes that can be won in the “Cash Bonus” area are: $40, $50, $100, $250 and $500. A player can win up to 26 times on a ticket.

There are four $3 million scratch-off tickets, 15 $300,000 tickets, 229 $30,000 tickets, 11,518 $1,000 tickets, 23,019 $500 tickets and 57,628 tickets. The odds of winning $30 to break even is one in 10 while the odds to win the grand prize of $3 million is one in 1.65 million. Because there are so many ways to win on one ticket, the overall odds of winning any prize is one in 2.7.

Gary Miller, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Lottery, said the game is the newest in instant games that are offered once a month.

“This is the highest prized instant game we offer, and it will remain on sale indefinitely,” he said. “These games perform very well and our players are very receptive to this price point. We’re offering something for everyone’s taste.”

Miller said it’s important to continually offer new games.

“We have a legislative mandate to generate funding for older Pennsylvanians,” he said. “In the last two fiscal years, we generated $1 billion each year and we are very proud of that.”

While some people may scratch their heads wondering who would pay $30 for a scratch-off lottery ticket, local therapists who treat people for gambling addiction fear it could create problems with people who play the lottery often.

“People with gambling addictions, you can keep raising the price like with this $30 card, and as long as they can justify it in their mind, there is no limit to what they would be willing to bet, with the assumption that the payoff will be better,” said Seth Rosenberg, a licensed professional counselor with offices in West Chester. “It’s like with the Powerball jackpot gets high, people have no problem laying out $20 because the idea that $300 million is somehow better than $100 million. The risk to reward is greater with a $30 scratch-off ticket.”

Matt Mauriello, a West Chester licensed professional counselor and licensed behavioral specialist who specializes in dealing with problem gamblers, agrees.

“Ultimately, it is the excitement of the game, and the risking of money,” he said. “One thing about the lottery I find fascinating is that most parents would frown on giving their kids a bottle of alcohol or tobacco in their Christmas stocking, but are OK with giving them lottery tickets. People just don’t recognize the risk (of future gambling addiction) that comes along with the lottery.”

Mauriello said he had a client who ditched his company-sponsored retirement plan when the market crashed in 2008, and invested that money in lottery tickets. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for him.

“More than nine chances out of 10, if you play, your money is gone,” he said. “For folks that have gambling problems, it’s not so much the reward, it’s the anticipation and the risk.”

Hilton agrees.

“It’s always exciting when you see your number match and you scratch the bottom part and see how much you won,” he said.

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