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V.I. Lottery to Resume Drawings, Up Jackpot

Oct. 19, 2004 – When you consider the odds of winning Powerball (80 million to one) or being dealt a royal flush on the opening hand in a poker game (650,000 to one), a jackpot from the V.I. Lottery actually seems attainable at 34,000 to one – about the same as getting hit by lightning.
But even with those odds, ticket sales have been down as the V.I. Lottery fights back from a year of contract disputes and using payment plans to pay out jackpots. (See "Contract Change May Mean More Lottery Revenues").
The usual biweekly drawings held by the V.I. Lottery have been scaled back in the past few months, while some changes were made behind the scenes. Paul Flemming, V.I. Lottery executive director, says they are now getting things on the right track.
"What the people were saying was the prizes weren't competitive. We improved the prospectus and prizes. The product is more attractive," Flemming said.
The biweekly drawings will begin again Oct. 21. Starting in December, the new jackpot will be set at $175,000, up from $125,000. There will also be a winner at every drawing, eliminating "rolling over" the prize money into the next drawing period. According to lottery officials, the rollover was the silent killer of the game.
"The house never won. The house was keeping the prize and adding it to the next prize," said Luz Browne, sales and marketing coordinator for the V.I. Lottery. "The house needs some revenue to keep the game going."
"I just appreciate the public’s patience. Change is not easy," Flemming said. "Our ultimate measure [of success] will be how much we can contribute to programs like the special education fund, textbook revolving fund and others."
The lottery is also looking for 300 new dealers to sell the 34,000 tickets printed every two weeks. Currently, there are more than 500 dealers. While some are in brick and mortar stores, many sell tickets on the street, earning $5 for every 25 tickets they sell.
"It's a lucrative business, if you ask me. It can work if it's done right," Flemming said. With the new prospectus in December, dealers will be earning $7 for every 30 tickets they sell. Prizes are awarded to dealers who sell the most tickets.

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