Connecticut Town Seeks Relief From Powerball Players

Overwhelmed by Powerball players, many of them from out of state, officials of the town of Greenwich, Conn., were in discussions Thursday with the state lottery in an effort to gain relief.

Police Chief Peter Robbins said police have been swamped monitoring long lines of players — many of them traveling by train from New York City — seeking tickets for a jackpot that could approach $300 million.

"We can't operate that way," Robbins said. "There are even major crime investigations that have been interrupted in their progress."

Robbins also said there have been numerous accidents, motor vehicle violations, severe traffic congestion and widespread parking problems.

Acting First Selectman Peter Crumbine would only say that discussions were underway between town and lottery officials. He would not comment on whether Greenwich had asked for a suspension of sales, but said an announcement would be made later in the day.

A lottery spokeswoman also said an announcement was planned later.

A 1999 state law — which expired June 30 — allowed Greenwich and other towns to suspend Powerball sales for 24 hours if state lottery officials verified that a huge influx of players threatened public health and safety.

Robbins said he hoped lottery officials could find a way to halt sales in Greenwich — the first town over the border from New York, which does not have Powerball — even though the law has expired.

"I'd like to see it suspended," Robbins said. "The feeling is it will help us if we can have the opportunity to suspend sales for a period of time."

About 55 police officers worked Wednesday night, more than triple the normal number, Robbins said.

Gov. John G. Rowland said Thursday the state was also ready to step in if towns were overwhelmed by would-be millionaires.

"We're always ready to help with crowd control or any emergency that may arise," he said.