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Missouri Lottery’s Million-Dollar Raffle doesn't sell out; players' odds improve

The Missouri Lottery’s alluring Million-Dollar Raffle game didn’t sell out.

While sales boomed a bit in the final days leading up to Tuesday’s drawing, officials finally cut off sales at 2 a.m. Sunday after 171,803 tickets – out of a possible 300,000 -- had been sold at $10 each.

Only sold-ticket numbers will be placed in the drawing pool, so the game’s already attractive odds will be slashed even more.

It could have been worse, Lottery spokesman Gary Gonder said Monday.

“We exceeded the break-even point of 162,000 tickets,” he said. “All in all it’s not where we wanted to be, but we didn’t lose any money.”

Ticket holders now await the news from the drawing, set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Lottery headquarters in Jefferson City.

Officials said they expect to post all 445 computer-generated winning numbers on the Lottery’s Web site by 3:30 p.m. Click here to go to molottery.com

“It will take some time for our security officers, drawing managers and independent auditors to verify the numbers and deem them official,” said Lottery spokeswoman Susan Goedde.

Players can also check their tickets on “Check-A-Ticket” bar code readers available at many Lottery retailer locations.

The unusual raffle offered players very attractive odds compared with other lottery games.

For $10, a player received one unique 10-digit raffle number.

One winner is to be selected tomorrow for the $1 million top prize, plus four $100,000 winners and 440 winners of $500 prizes each.

Even at the original 1-in-300,000 game odds, chances of catching the top prize were a whole better than the 1-in-195 million chance of hitting a Powerball jackpot.

Odds of grabbing one of the 440 $500 consolation prizes in a sell-out game were a relatively microscopic 1-in-682 -- and now fall to somewhere slightly more than half that figure.

Officials estimate the top prize will be worth around $710,000 after taxes.

A burst of player interest in the raffle was spurred Jan. 7 when officials reported sales were lagging and that 221,529 tickets were still unsold. Over the next 48 hours coverage by Lucky Numbers and The Kansas City Star gave sales an upward bump.

“The day your story broke was the biggest day of sales, $51,090, to that point,” said Gonder at the time.

Monday he blamed the raffle's failure to sell out “partly on the economy and partly on our inability to adequately promote the game.”

Since 2002 state appropriations for lottery advertising, taken from lottery profits, has been slashed more than 80 percent by the Missouri General Assembly, from $8 million to around $1.3 million.

Gambling foes contend that Lottery games sell themselves at convenience store counters and other outlets, and that revenues are better spent directly on public education.

Lottery officials say they will go before lawmakers again this year and argue that the lack of ad dollars handcuffs them in the marketplace and hurts sales -- and ultimately education.

Expect raffle sales to be Exhibit A.

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