EZ Match uses retailer terminals to print instant tickets

A proposed lottery game that would allow players to become instant winners (or losers) without so much as scratching a ticket is under fire from critics who contend it would be a giant step toward slot machines.

Under the proposed EZ Match game – which the Texas Lottery Commission could take up as soon as Oct. 2 – players would hand their money to a clerk and get back an instant ticket printed from a lottery terminal.

No wait for a drawing, and no need to scratch. Similar games are offered by a number of other lotteries.

“It's just like a scratch game, only you don't scratch the latex,” Lottery Commission spokesman Bobby Heith said after being asked about critics' slot-machine concerns. “There's no buttons. There's no spinning wheels. There's no levers. You can only get the ticket through a clerk-assisted transaction at a lottery retailer.”

Proposed rules for the game specify that it would not be played on a video lottery terminal, a form of slot machine. The commission's assistant general counsel, Pete Wassdorf, has said the only similarity to a video lottery is that the ticket “is purchased from an electronic machine, but the dissimilarities far exceed that.”

A slew of critics, however, have sent the commission pleas to stop the plan. The key, they say, is that game results would be predetermined in the lottery's computer system and delivered instantly.

“It is a video lottery system that they are approving,” said Rob Kohler, a former Lottery Commission staffer who is a consultant for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission. “Whether they are going to allow players to immediately start pressing buttons and seeing electronic versions of card games happening is irrelevant …,” Kohler said. He called passage of the rule “the equivalent of allowing assault rifles, but saying, ‘We're not going to use this to shoot holes in tanks, we're going to shoot water balloons out of it.' ”