New Powerball Rules Begin Jan. 15; Bigger Baseline Jackpot ($40 Million), But Tickets Cost More


As most of you know, I was in the lottery business from 1999 to 2011. I’ve written two books about lotteries and blogged for about four years now.

My new book (updated the one you see on the right) will be out next Fall, both in print and as an ebook.

During those years I worked closely with the folks at Powerball (although, to be honest, I was paid by California, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington D.C.), although I was never paid by them. So with all the changes being made, I asked my contact to send me his officials comments explaining the changes and how things work. This, you’ll see below:

“Change is hard. Even good changes.

“Powerball is changing and since it is just easier to talk about the “bad” changes (in this case raising the price per play to $2), we are more than a little nervous about these changes. But we also know that, if players give it a chance, Powerball will be an even better game.

“We are pulling some of the red ball numbers from the drum. Say goodbye to 36, 37, 38, and 39. That means that the odds of hitting the jackpot drop from 1 in 195 million to 1 in 175 million.

“Still, since we are nearly doubling the money now going to the jackpot, the average jackpot hit will jump from about $141 million to about $255 million. The new Powerball jackpot should also jump more quickly. The guaranteed starting jackpot will double from $20 million to $40 million and will jump twice as fast, by at least $10 million each draw.

“The second prize (Match5+0) is quintupling from $200,000 to $1 million cash (effective Jan 18). We know that no one plays Powerball to win $1 million, but that continues to be the most common suggestion we get: “Instead of paying out $100 million, why not give 100 people $1 million?” We know that the vast majority of players come to Powerball for the big jackpots, but we decided to try giving out lots of $1 million prizes anyway.

“Last year, Powerball awarded about 500 Match 5 prizes. If the game had been in place last year, those would have been $1 million prizes. All U.S. lotteries award about 1,000 $1 million prizes per year, so Powerball alone could be increasing that by half.

“Since there are now only 35 red balls in the drum, it is easier to match the red ball – and you always win a prize if you match the red ball number (either alone or with one or more white ball numbers). The overall odds of winning any prize in the game also get easier. And the lowest cash prize is now $4 (the price of two tickets; we hope you decide to do that). While changing the lowest prize from $3 to $4 may not seem like much, a lot of folks win that prize and it is very expensive for us.

“Now that Mega Millions and Powerball are available (nearly) everywhere, players don’t have enough variety. Powerball is now a premium lotto game with higher and faster growing jackpots (most of the time; Mega Millions is still a big jackpot game); a $1 million second prize (second place is no longer the “first loser”); and better overall odds.

“Those players who focus on spending $1 for their dream still have Mega Millions. Those players who are willing to lay out an extra 20 NICKLES for their big dream, a chance at $1 million (virtually a second big game on its own) and betters odds of doubling their spend can choose Powerball.

“Power Play is changing too. The old concept was to multiply your prizes at random by 2X to 5X. There was a certain amount of fun to that with players sometimes multiplying their prizes by 5X and not so much fun when multiplying by 2X. Since the core Powerball game is already exciting, We decided to chill out Power Play a bit. The new Power Play just raises the prizes for all (group hug). There are no mountains to climb, but no valleys either. And since there is less risk for us too, we are putting even more of the Power Play dollar to the prizes. With Power Play, the $1 million become $2 million.

“You no longer will have to say “Yeah, I’m a millionaire. . .you know, before taxes.” It is now a True Millionaire prize. If you want you can now say, “Yeah, I’m a multi-millionaire . . you know, before taxes.” The lowest prizes of $4 triples to $12. So, you can slip a ten-spot in your pocket and still buy a new ticket. You can then buy a new book to read to the kids. The $10,000 prize with odds of 1 in 650,000 (how easy is that?) quadruples to $40,000. I hope I’m spelling “quadruple” correctly, because I’m using it a lot.”

Well , that’s the message from Powerball.

What do you think?

I’m not happy about the $2 per ticket change, I must admit.

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Married to a beautiful (and extremely intelligent--- smarter than I am) South African woman. One child (brilliant). I've written three books, only one now available. Editor in chief of magazines...former managing editor .... news reporter, magazine writer, joker, sometimes a fool, lottery expert, lover of old, classic movies, music fanatic, Science Fiction fan (Warhammer 40,000, Game of Thrones). Goal for next year: Walk the Camino de Santiago. Into metaphysics, Esther Hicks (Abraham), Louise Hay


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