Powerball Expansion to Australia on Hold, Idaho Retains Membership as a Result

Posted on: April 22, 2021, 12:01h. 

Last updated on: April 22, 2021, 10:19h.

Powerball had hoped to expand to Australia this year to boost sales and revenue. But those plans are being put on hold.

Idaho Lottery Powerball
A digital billboard in Idaho shows the Powerball jackpot number in March. The Idaho Lottery is retaining participation in Powerball after the game did not expand to Australia this year as expected. (Image: KTVB)

The Idaho Lottery has been participating in Powerball, the multistate lottery game owned and operated by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), for more than three decades. But state lawmakers said passed legislation to end its MUSL membership should Powerball expand to Australia. 

Idaho Republicans, who dominate the state legislature, said Australia’s strong anti-gun laws and opinions deeply contrast their own. Idaho is a traditional pillar of conservatism in the US that supports the Second Amendment, which states, “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” 

Idahoans in the state legislature voiced concerns that Australian states and territories participating in Powerball could use their lottery revenue from the game to further advocate anti-gun policies both at home and in foreign relations. 

But with MUSL revealing that Powerball’s expansion to Down Under will not happen this year, the Idaho Lottery says it will stay in the association through at least 2021. 

Businesses Relieved

The potential decision to withdrawal from MUSL and Powerball participation certainly would have come with repercussions for some Idahoans. 

Lottery retailers that sell Powerball tickets receive commissions on each ticket sold. Of the $2 Powerball purchase price, the retailer, such as a convenience store owner, pockets a five percent commission or 10 cents. Retailers also receive financial rewards when they sell a winning ticket. For example, the convenience store that sold the January $731.1 million winning jackpot received a $100,000 bonus. 

Large Powerball and Mega Millions of jackpots also push customers into such businesses to buy tickets. Unlike some other states, the Idaho Lottery does not sell tickets online.

It’s a huge part of what brings traffic into our convenience stores, Matt Berry, president of the Idaho Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, told KTVB7 earlier this month. 

On the southern border of Utah, it’s a huge traffic point for those convenience stores, many of them claim that they are the Utah lottery because they have so many people that travel in there,” Berry continued.

The Idaho Lottery said more than 670,000 Idahoans played Powerball last year. Berry says the average lottery player spends twice as much in Idaho’s convenience stores as non-lottery customers.

“Not only are you missing out on lottery sales, but the extra things that the customers buy, the soda pop, the candy,” Berry added.

Powerball Expansion

Powerball is currently played in 45 states, plus DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. MUSL had planned to take the game to Australia beginning this August.

MUSL now says that its goal is to have Powerball operational in Australia, as well as the United Kingdom, at some point in 2022. 

“Powerball will remain available for Idahoans and others to participate in,” Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson told the House State Affairs Committee this week. “That doesn’t mean that we won’t be back next year to try to address this because it’s my understanding that this (adding Australia and Britain) is inevitable. It’s just not happening in 2021.”

MUSL did not comment as to why Australia’s Powerball participation is being delayed.