Thursday, April 10, 2003

Mega Millions profits underwhelming

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Mega Millions has failed to make the state, or any of its residents, much richer.

Profits from the long-shot multistate lottery game are nowhere near the $41 million that state officials anticipated. It has produced just $8.8 million in additional revenue with 21/2 months left in the fiscal year.

Low jackpots have failed to lure players, Ohio Lottery officials said.

"The way it's looking . . . we'll fall well short," lottery spokeswoman Mardele Cohen said. "Unless we get on a roll, we will not hit that $41 million figure."

No Ohioan has yet won the top prize, which hasn't helped. Odds of claiming the jackpot are one in 135 million. Ohio winners have claimed $26.6 million in smaller prizes.

Orest Holubec, spokesman for Gov. Bob Taft, said even though Mega Millions may fall short of the state's goal, it's still making money.

"With the tough budget we're facing, any additional revenue is welcome," Holubec said.

When Taft signed a bill in December 2001 authorizing the Ohio Lottery Commission to enter Mega Millions, lawmakers expected it would help balance the budget.

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