The reason for Lotto's shrinking level of popularity is not a lack of stupendous payoffs. ("Changes Planned to Boost Size of Lotto Jackpot . . .", Part I, Aug. 19) The problem is the obvious distortions between the odds of their games and the returns. The odds of picking three numbers out of 49 are 54 to 1. The reward is $5. That is not a good bet.

In the new games that will be introduced next year, the same problem exists. In one, the mathematical odds of winning are 28,561 to 1. However, the reward is only $5,000. In the second game, the odds are 161,700 to 1 but the playoff is a puny $25,000. At a roulette wheel in Las Vegas, the chances of choosing one number correctly are 38-1 (counting 0 and 00). The payoff is a very reasonable 36-1.

If you want to gamble, stick to casinos and Santa Anita.

DAVID C. DAGGETT

Arcadia