12/21/02 10:19 AM Inches: 10.6 REGULAR BC-LotteryforChristmas 12-21 0448


Associated Press Writer

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) -- In New Jersey, it's "Jingle Bell Bingo," "Happy Holidays" and "Holiday Cheer."

Pennsylvania has "Yule Win," "Holly Jolly Cash" and "Treasures Under the Tree." And in Wisconsin, the holiday season scratch-off lottery games include "Dashing thru the Dough."

Holiday-themed lottery games have evolved into gift-giving traditions as stocking stuffers, secret Santa gifts and tips.

Though usually instant disappointments, the possibility of riches -- and the typically $1 to $5 price tags -- make them appealing to shoppers looking for that not-so-special something.

"I give them to co-workers, because sometimes you have to give a gift of appreciation," said bank employee Rose Dallas, 71, of Trenton. "It's easy shopping for me and I know it would be a pleasant surprise if they had a winner."

For the lotteries, it's a most wonderful time the year.

All but a few of the 38 states that run lotteries offer some type of holiday variations, said David Gale, executive director of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

The New Jersey Lottery spends $1 million on radio, TV and transit advertising to pitch the holiday-themed games, said marketing manager Foster Krupa.

"It's a fun, innovative gift, something people like because there's an element of surprise to it, which is a great addition to any gift," said gift-giving expert Robyn Spizman.

Lottery tickets aren't appropriate for everyone. Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, warned that giving the tickets to children introduces them to the culture of gambling, which can plant the seeds for problems later.

And only a precious few are worth the cardboard they're printed on.

"If it's not a winner, the gift has sort of gone 'poof' into the air," said etiquette expert Hilka Klinkenberg.

Still, there's that chance. Herman Dupuy of Auburn, Wash., got $10 in tickets for Christmas from his daughter two years ago. One of them was a $6 million winner.

Dallas, who spend about $5 on lottery tickets for each of five co-workers at the bank each year, said she would have mixed emotions in a case like that.

"My daughter told me once, 'Ma, if you keep buying these, you're going to give your lucky ticket away,"' she said. "That's something to think about. I'd feel terrible, to be honest with you. I'd be 'Oh my God, I gave it away!'

"I'd be happy for them, but I'd be mad at myself for giving it away."


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