Size apparently matters, at least for the Kentucky Lottery.
Sales began March 27 for an innovative $10 scratch-off game called Big Money that features an oversized ticket, 8 inches by 8 inches. The ticket is roughly twice the size of the largest ticket previously on sale.
The lottery for years has had scratch off tickets selling for more -- currently up to $25 -- but Edie Frakes, Kentucky Lottery vice president of marketing, said the size of the ticket adds to the appeal, as does the extended time it takes to play the full game.
Big Money has a top prize of $100,000 and has a larger-than-usual amount of $50 and $100 winners included.
Officials said Big Money is proving to be one of the most successful scratch-off tickets in the lottery's 28-year history. Kentucky Lottery sales for March 2017 were $95.7 million. Only January 2016 sales were higher, and that was during the run-up to the world record Powerball jackpot that culminated at $1.6 billion.
March 2017 scratch-offf sales were $60.2 million, while the final week of the month — March 26 through April 1 — were $15.2 million. These are second only to sales in April 1989, when lottery sales first began. In that month, sales were $68.1 million and first-week sales were $27 million.
"On the day the ticket launched, we started receiving reports of players waiting at retailers for UPS shipments of the tickets to arrive that day. That’s when we knew we had a home run,” said Marty Gibbs, the lottery's acting president and CEO.
Gibbs said the lottery intends to start selling another oversized ticket later this spring.
Also in sight is the launch of the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket at the end of April. This multi-state $5 game has an instant top prize of $50,000, along with a chance for a trip to Las Vegas where contestants will have a chance to win $1 billion.
Lottery officials also noted Thursday that spending on the Keno game has peaked. Keno, a game launched in late 2013, had record sales in March totaling $7.4 million. Lottery spokesman Chip Polston said Keno sales are usually strong in March. The game is played primarily in social settings — chiefly bars and restaurants — where people play the lottery while watching basketball games.
Another factor spurring Keno sales is that the lottery last year increased drawings to every four minutes, instead of every five minutes. The increased play boosted sales by several percentage points, said Howard Kline, the lottery's chief financial officer. In Keno, players try to match up to 10 numbers drawn from a large set.