Saturday, November 1, 2014
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New national lottery: $5 tickets, ‘100s of millionaires’

Monopoly Millionaires' Club will also have its own TV game show.

Starting in January, Billy Gardell of "Mike & Molly" will host a TV game show called "Monopoly Millionaires´ Club," a tie-in with a new national lottery game, set to debut in about 20 states on Oct. 19, 2014.
Starting in January, Billy Gardell of "Mike & Molly" will host a TV game show called "Monopoly Millionaires' Club," a tie-in with a new national lottery game, set to debut in about 20 states on Oct. 19, 2014.

MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRES' CLUB UPDATE, OCT. 15: "New national lottery takes prize for being complicated"

Monopoly Millionaires' Club, a new national lottery game designed to create “hundreds of millionaires,” is slated to debut Oct. 19 in about 20 states.

Details have been slow to emerge, with lottery officials declining comment before some coming publicity splash.

But here’s a rapid rundown of what’s been disclosed so far.

Will you play new national $5 lottery drawing, Monopoly Millionaires' Club?
No, costs too much / odds too long / no idiot tax for me.
Maybe when the 'jackpot' gets up to a hundred million-dollar prizes.
Yes. Hope to go to Vegas to be on TV, baby.

Game name: Monopoly Millionaires’ Club.

Cost per ticket: $5.

Type of game: Drawing.

Frequency: Weekly (Friday nights), beginning Oct. 24. (Ticket sales start Oct. 19, the Sunday before.)

Special features: Instead of making one winner flabbergastingly rich, Monopoly Millionaires Club will divvy up the prize pool to create many millionaires. (Similar to Canada’s LottoMax/Maximillions.) Also, the game will tie into a new TV game show.

Partly, it’s like a regular drawing: Each ticket has five numbers from 1 to 52 (player chosen or computer picked) and one from 1 to 28 (computer picked). Prizes range from $5 to $100,000 (the highest fixed prize) to $15 million to $25 million (the minimum and maximum jackpots). The odds of winning the top prize will be about 1 in 73 million, better per ticket than Powerball or Mega Millions, but worse per dollar. " 

Partly, it’s like a millionaire raffle: The jackpot starts at $15 million, with ten $1 million prizes. If no one wins the top prize, no one wins $1 million either. The top prize grows till it hits the cap of $25 million. As sales continue, the number of possible millionaires grows until the jackpot is won. “Hundreds of millionaires” might be created from a single drawing, according to an official Monopoly Millionaires' Club release.

It’s also a TV show: In February, Billy Gardell, costar of CBS’s Mike & Molly, will host a weekly one-hour game show, also named Monopoly Millionaires’ Club, with more than $2.5 million in prizes per show.

Becoming a TV contestant: The numbers 1 to 28 on the drawing tickets will also stand for a Monopoly property, such as Oriental Avenue or Reading Railroad. Apparently, completing a set of properties (like Park Place and Boardwalk) makes a player eligible to win additional prizes, including an invitation to be in the studio audience for the Las Vegas-based TV show. All TV contestants will be chosen from the studio audience. Registration will be possible via a smartphone app, as well as online.

Another difference: All prize drawings will use a computerized system -- random number generators -- instead of bouncing balls.

States on board: About 20 states have signed up for the October launch of Monopoly Millionaires' Club. They include Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Texas, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky and Arkansas. Expected to join in early 2015 are Virginia, Ohio and Delaware. Illinois, Florida and California were still considering as of mid-August. Since Powerball and Mega Millions are already played in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the new game has far to go to deserve the title “national lottery” as much as those drawings.

Why Monopoly: It’s a proven brand, used with more than 170 lottery games worldwide “with a retail value of nearly $5 billion,” according to the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL).

Why $5: It’s a new price point for a U.S. drawing. It’s the most popular price point for scratch-off games, officials say. And, obviously, it's more money.

Question only a journalist would worry about: How the heck is "Monopoly Millionaires' Club" going to fit in headlines? How about as "Mo' Millionaires"?

Key players: The game, designed by Scientific Games, will be operated nationally by the MUSL, which has long operated Powerball. 

Website (update): The website will be http://playmmc.com. (Previous verision noted that Hasbro owns but wasn't using MonopolyMillionaires.com.)

Some sources about Monopoly Millionaires' Club: Multi-State Lottery Association announcement (April 2014). Texas Lottery Commission meeting transcript (June 2014)Texas adoption proposal (July 2014)New York Lottery rulemaking memo (July 2014).

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com. Follow @petemucha on Twitter. 

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