Big Jackpot, Second-Chance Drawing : Lucky Joker Reverses Lottery Sales Dip

Times Staff Writer

Reversing a steady, six-month decline, California Lottery ticket sales have taken an unexpectedly sharp increase in the last two weeks, Lottery Director Mark Michalko said Thursday.

Michalko attributed the increase to a new feature that permits some holders of losing tickets a second chance at winning, plus interest generated by a record $12.23-million jackpot in this week’s Big Spin lottery payoff.

Ticket sales for the first week of the lottery’s new Lucky Joker game, which began May 16, averaged 9.5 million per day, compared to 8.65 million per day during the first week of the previous game.


Doubled Rate Expected

Although the figures are not yet verified for the second week of sales for the new game, Michalko said he believes ticket sales in the second week have nearly doubled in comparison to the previous game, up to 8 million or more a day, compared to 4.7 million a day.

The increase reverses the pattern of steadily declining ticket sales since the lottery began Oct. 3. An increase in ticket sales is typical when a new game is introduced, but the size of the increase in game six surprised lottery officials, Michalko said.

“That hasn’t happened in any other state,” Michalko said.

The lottery director first mentioned the increase in sales after an address to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. In a telephone interview from his Sacramento office Thursday, Michalko elaborated, saying he expects average sales for the new game to drop to 6 or 7 million per day in coming weeks.

Pattern of Decline

Average daily sales for the first week of game one were 12.8 million, then dropped to about 11 million for game two, about 9 million for games three and four, and 8.6 million for game five.542402661states and had been expected by lottery officials here.

The drop in sales during game five may also be attributed to the misconception some people had that chances of winning instant prizes decreased as the amount of the grand prize increased, Michalko said. But publicity efforts to dispel that belief and the Big Spin grand prize’s reaching $12.23 million have attracted more players in game six.

“As the jackpot goes up, more and more people play the games,” he said.

The second-chance drawings have also attracted more players. If a person mails in three non-winning tickets with Lucky Jokers on them, he or she becomes eligible for a second-chance drawing.

Fifty names were picked in the initial second-chance drawing Thursday. On Saturday, one of the 50 will be picked to participate in an upcoming Big Spin. The remaining 49 will each win $2,500.