Someone could win a $1 million prize today in the first national telephone and Internet lottery drawing, which is sponsored by the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribe.
Tribal officials hope to hit the jackpot, too. They’ve waited three years for this drawing.
“There is no other draw lottery in the United States that can be accessed both by telephone and computer. We are anticipating excellent player reaction and are set up to receive thousands of calls per day,” said gaming manager David Matheson.
While its US Lottery games on the Internet have been online since last March, the tribe’s efforts to gain telephone access for the lottery have been stymied since 1995. Attorneys general from around the country convinced long-distance phone companies that the enterprise would be illegal for them.
The tribe ended up suing and winning against AT&T.; The lawsuit still is working its way through tribal appeals court and could be appealed again to federal court.
But GTE stepped forward two months ago and offered phone service for the Worley, Idaho-based operation.
“It was a surprise,” said Laura Stensgar, marketing director for tribal gaming operations.
“This is a breakthrough,” she added. “Now we’re able to do what we intended to do three years ago, which is offer people more access.”
Tickets for the Super 6 lottery went on sale Jan. 9. They cost $1 with a minimum purchase of $6 required. By last Friday, 2,000 tickets had been sold, Stensgar said.
Tickets are sold 24 hours a day via phone at (208) 665-3866 or on the Internet (www.uslottery.com).
The lottery is available to people in 33 states, including Idaho, Washington and Montana. Players must be at least 18 years old and have a major credit card.
Players choose six out of 49 numbers; a match of all six winning numbers earns the jackpot, which will grow progressively larger until someone wins it.
The drawings will take place every Tuesday at 1 p.m., except for today’s 11:40 a.m. event, which will be part of a news conference and celebration.
The lottery and other online games are managed by UniStar Entertainment, a subsidiary of Executone Information Systems.
US Lottery employs 20 people and is housed next to the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Bingo Casino. While the four Internet lottery games have not been moneymakers so far, tribal officials hope the combined Internet and phone games will build on the success of the casino.
The national operation potentially could bring millions of dollars to the tribe’s educational, health and environmental programs. The Coeur d’Alenes also have promised to share profits with other tribes.
All other long-distance gambling operations are operated from other countries. This one is being watched carefully within the gambling industry, in part for its possible impact on state-run lotteries.
Even though the state of Idaho has challenged the legality of the tribe’s casino video machines, it has not opposed the US Lottery.