Texas lottery commission might run raffles if AG Abbott gives nod

Legal News Line Jul. 26, 2007, 8:57am

Greg Abbott

AUSTIN -- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is currently mulling whether Texans could soon play a type of lottery more often seen at social fund-raisers. The Texas Lottery Commission (TLC) recently asked for Abbott's opinion on the legality under the Texas constitution of introducing a limited-ticket, no-duplicate 'raffle' game. TLS also hopes to join multi-state raffles. The raffle proposal meets the commission's definition of an 'on-line game', notes TLC chairman James A. Cox. The TLC is seeking Abbott's opinion "in light of language in previous attorney general opinions about the scope of the commission's authority," Cox wrote. Previous attorney general opinions have ruled that the Texas legislature could not introduce slot machines or video lottery machines, Cox's letter noted. The TLC claims raffles offer better odds than existing lotto games. A spokesman told the Houston Chronicle that the odds of winning $1 million in a 2006 Florida raffle were 250,000 to one compared to 23 million to one for the state's Lotto jackpot the same week. The raffle tickets cost $20 each, however, compared to $1 each for the Lotto tickets. Plus Lotto players can choose their own numbers whereas raffle players have theirs spat out by a random-number generator, a possible psychological barrier for some players. Texas lottery watchdog Dawn Nettles, who publishes Texas Lotto Report, gave an initial thumbs-up to the raffle idea. "The best part about it is that your odds are considerably better" than lotto, she told the Chronicle. But she also said she would "fight tooth and nail" against introducing a multi-state raffle game, which she said would lower players' chances of winning. Twenty-seven other states currently offer raffles.

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