Vermont to institute $20 lottery ticket

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(Host) Vermont is joining with many other states to institute a $20 instant lottery ticket.

Despite the growth and publicity surrounding Powerball and Megabucks, instant ticket sales account for roughly 75 % of all lottery revenue in Vermont.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Unless you purchase instant lottery tickets on a regular basis you might not be aware of a new trend in the gambling business – the introduction of more expensive instant scratch off games.

When these tickets were first introduced they cost a dollar. Now the price ranges from a dollar to twenty dollars.

Lottery director Alan Yandow says a number of players like the more expensive tickets because they offer larger prizes.

(Yandow) “We introduced a $20 price point just over the holiday season and we did not know how that was going to sell. Other states had tried it. We got a very favorable response from the players.”

(Kinzel) Some critics of the state lottery aren’t pleased with the more expensive tickets. Yandow says he understands their concerns but he feels it’s appropriate for the state to be involved in gambling. This year the lottery is expected to contribute roughly $21 million to the state Education Fund.

(Hotline sounds)

(Mitchell) “You have reached the Vermont Council on Problem Gambling. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and you need immediate help, press one now.”

(Kinzel) Joy Mitchell is the director of the Council. She says the hotline gets between 40 and 90 calls a month. Most of the calls come from people whose gambling problems aren’t related to the lottery.

(Mitchell) “That’s really important to remember. We have Internet. We have in 3 different directions out of Vermont casinos are available. We have charitable gambling. The bingos, the break open or full pads, casino nights or Monte Carlo nights. And now with Texas Hold ‘Em they’re having tournaments for fund raising.”

(Kinzel) Mitchell says the hotline provides professional counseling for gambling addicts. She says it’s critical to offer these services because many people are very good at hiding their addiction from their family members.

(Mitchell) “It’s one of the best kept secrets. When somebody’s gambling, they don’t openly discuss it. They may say, well I won the other night.’ But they really don’t openly discuss to what extent they played, how much money they put into it to win. Many people don’t even know that they’re family member is participating in gambling. It’s really well hidden.”

(Kinzel) The hotline for the Vermont Council on Problem Gambling is 1-800-522-4700.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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