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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 14, 2024


May 1, 2002 – People who've played the V.I. Lottery for years on St. Thomas are accustomed to being able to watch the winning numbers being drawn. They can't do that for the Caribbean Lottery Services big Lotto prize, and that's been causing some consternation.
It's easy to walk over to the V.I. Lottery office off Veterans Drive and watch the prize numbers being rolled around and sung out. It's not so easy when the drawing is taking place on another island hundreds of miles away.
But Richards Counts, CLS local marketing and sales director, says the company is working on it.
Counts said Wednesday that CLS is planning to show televised drawings in the Virgin Islands. But, more important, it intends to move the main drawing operation to the territory. It is now based in Barbados and telecast to other Caribbean islands.
"The possibility is moving the entire draw to the V.I. ," Counts said. "That's one of our high priorities — as well as moving our regional offices to St. Croix."
Now, the drawings are televised on the other Caribbean islands that participate in the CLS lotteries, just as the drawings are televised on the mainland. Counts said the problem is "working through the logistics and finalizing setting up television stations and telecommunications networks to get the drawings on the air."
Sen. Vargrave Richards said earlier this week that his office has received a number of calls from residents wanting to see the drawings for themselves. CLS should be commended for generating renewed excitement in lotteries in the Virgin Islands, he said, but the calls indicate a need for the company to get more information out to players about how the games work.
For instance, Richards said, for the big jackpot Lotto prize, "Is the increase fixed or based on a formula that takes into consideration the numbers of tickets purchased collectively? There needs to be a detailed clarification and explanation of the entire process."
Richards added, "The general indication is that a public education program should be put in place. Questions surrounding the numbering sequence and the percentages of increases during every rollover should be publicly clarified."
Counts was happy to oblige. Unlike the V.I. Lottery, which rolls over winnings for unsold numbers to the next drawing, CLS uses a different system much like those used on the mainland.
"A decision is made from the different sales managers on each island after each drawing, using a sales projection method," Counts said. "We are a $1 ticket lottery; the V.I. lottery is $25."
Recently, the Lotto jackpot has been about $50,000, reaching $62,000 a few times. It can go up or down, depending on the projected amount of ticket sales, Counts said.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg tried unsucessfully at last week's full Senate session to introduce an amendment requiring that lottery game drawings be televised. He said he thinks that "not only would public drawings make things more exciting, but people will have more faith in the games," and as a result, ticket sales will improve.
"Many people have long held concerns about how the winning numbers are selected," he said in a release. "We can alleviate these concerns and legitimize the process," he said, by making drawings public "at a scheduled time so that everyone throughout the territory can observe." He said while it is not practical for all drawings to be televised, those for major prizes should be, and that he will try again to introduce his amendment at the next legislative session.
CLS has dealers set up at about 40 business establishments in the territory using computer terminals, Counts said.
He said the company has independent auditors who weigh the balls before each drawing "to make sure they are all of equal weight before they are placed in the machine which spits the winning numbers out." This is what the disgruntled players want to see.
Prizes of $500 and less can be paid by the individual lottery dealer, Counts said, while those of more than $500 must be claimed at a CLS office — at Port of $ale Mall on St. Thomas or at Sunny Isle Shopping Center on St. Croix.
The CLS Hotline — 714-7330 — is updated for each of the three daily drawings — at about 1:30, 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. The results are published in the territory's two print daily newspapers.

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