Tower of Babble


Connecticut's busybody attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, is fighting for consumers again, this time by putting the brakes on the state lottery's introduction of a new CD-based interactive instant lottery game.

In Treasure Tower (which would cost 4 bucks—or be given away free with the purchase of $15 worth of instant scratch tickets) players navigate a cartoon character from Babylonia through secret doors in search of prizes. The game lasts 15 or 20 minutes. (Fortunately, time-strapped players can simply scratch off a latex coating to find out for sure whether they are losers.)

So is Blumenthal taking this opportunity to point out that state-run lotteries are a consumer rip off that offer pathetic odds? (Chances of winning the $25,000 grand prize in Treasure Tower are one in 26,000.) Does he want to break the state's monopoly on lotteries, allowing competitors to offer better odds? Is he advising people to gamble at online or land-based casinos, where their chances of winning are higher?

Don't bet on it.

"If we have learned anything from our experience with the tobacco industry it is that Joe Camel was aimed at kids. This use of cartoon characters seems to have the same appeal and pitch to children, which is not only a social policy concern but also a legal one," Blumenthal said. "We are also concerned about the possibility that this game is really a video lottery, which we have concluded might well be prohibited by state law."

Good lookin' out.