News Column

Powerball Rolling Into California

Nov. 30, 2012

Laurel Rosenhall, The Sacramento Bee

A day after lottery officials announced that winners in Arizona and Missouri will share a $580 million Powerball jackpot, California lottery officials decided the state will join the game.

The California State Lottery Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve new regulations allowing the state to participate in the Powerball game, which is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association.

Californians should be able to play Powerball by next April 8, said commission spokesman Russ Lopez.

Powerball tickets, which cost $2 each, are currently sold in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

California steered clear of multistate games until 2005, when the commission agreed to join the Mega Millions jackpot contest.

The game survived legal challenges from anti-gambling forces that said voters had not specifically approved it. Lottery officials this spring credited a huge Mega Millions jackpot with spiking interest -- and ticket sales -- in California.

Offering Powerball in California is "part of a continuing effort to offer new and exciting products to players and increase sales," state lottery officials wrote in a staff report before Thursday's approval. The report says the state would net between $90 million and $120 million a year by offering Powerball, after accounting for decreased sales in other games, such as SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions.

The starting jackpots in those games are $7 million and $12 million, respectively, compared with Powerball's starting jackpot of $40 million.

"The Powerball jackpot also grows faster, increasing by at least $10 million per 'roll,' " the report says. "These jackpot levels rapidly build excitement among players."

Source: (c)2012 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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