Kick-Off of Lotto Game Gets a Lot of Hoopla

Tony Lo Piccolo Jr. is expecting a huge crowd today at Stadium Liquor, where he will be giving away balloons, T-shirts and lapel pins.

But the crowds aren't expected to show up for the freebies. They will come to gamble.

"Last year when they started the scratch-off (California Lottery) game, we sold 10,000 tickets in three or four hours," Lo Piccolo said. "They were moving. People were lined up out the door."

Today, he believes, the crowds will be even greater, as Stadium Liquor and lottery outlets at 18 other locations throughout the state hold ceremonies at noon to kick off the first day of Lotto, a legalized, electronic version of the old numbers game that officially gets under way at 12:30 p.m.

"It stirs up a lot of excitement," Lo Piccolo said. "People like to gamble."

Stadium Liquor is but one of 5,000 outlets statewide where the Lotto 6/49 signs will be displayed, but it is the only one in Orange County where kickoff ceremonies will be held.

Besides free Lotto lapel pins, T-shirts and balloons and a free chance on the "Green Machine" for "the first 500 people who want to play," Lottery spokesman Bob Taylor said.

"Of course, some people will want more than one," he added.

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