State lottery pulling scratch game after complaint it could appeal to kids
Gov. Christine Gregoire's office on Thursday asked the lottery to pull the game, which features tickets that look like labels for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Jolly Rancher and other candies, after investigating a concern that it could be perceived as a game for kids.
Lottery Director Christopher Liu asked the state's 3,900 scratch-ticket retailers to remove the game, but it may take a few weeks for the game to disappear from shelves and vending machines, said Jacque Coe, spokeswoman for the lottery.
"The stores have been pulling the ticket, and they're making good progress," Coe said.
Of the original 1.9 million candy tickets printed, 600,000 were still on the market before the decision to pull them.
The $2 game features Hershey products and prizes from $2 to $20,000. Tickets went on sale in March.
That the candy-themed game might appeal to kids "didn't rise up as a concern at that time," Coe said.
"In retrospect, we can see where now it might be misinterpreted, and we want to avoid any confusion, any perception that we might be putting the ticket out there to appeal to anyone who's not an adult."
The candy game brings in less than 1 percent of the lottery's revenue and was selling below average, Coe said.
The Hershey game is one of 33 scratch-ticket varieties, many of which also use popular brands and themes, such as "Deal Or No Deal" and outdoor sports, to appeal to buyers.
Washington's Lottery buys most of its games from MDI Entertainment, a subsidiary of Scientific Games, and makes no direct arrangements with brands that appear on the tickets, Coe said.
"This particular brand may have been misconstrued and won't be repeated. We're very committed to preventing sales to minors," she said, citing the lottery's "Not 18? Not a Chance" campaign.
Gregoire has fought against the marketing of cigarettes and alcohol to minors. In 2006, as the lottery was revamping its business strategy, she warned Liu against promoting gambling to teenagers and young adults.
"I want to ensure that we are not, in any way, marketing lottery products to youth," she wrote in a Feb. 10, 2006, letter to the lottery director.
The candy game may have been at odds with that directive, and Gregoire "hopes that [the lottery] will be mindful of this kind of marketing" in the future, said spokeswoman Laura Lockard.