Lottery

Powerball Mulling International Expansion to Boost Sales, Jackpots

Powerball sales in 2020 are down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as millions of Americans have been under stay-at-home orders. Lottery retailers have been forced to close or limit operations.

Powerball is considering taking its game overseas to the UK and Australia. (Image: EPA)

The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), the non-profit lottery group behind the game, is looking abroad to help fuel sales. The agency is in discussions with Australia and the United Kingdom. Missouri Lottery Director May Scheve, a MUSL board member, revealed the news during a recent state lottery commission meeting.

“The game is hurting and it’s the most profitable product,” Scheve stated.

We are just talking about it right now,” she added. “We’re working very hard and thinking of new promotions for the game. Powerball is a very strong brand. We want more people to play, and adding population is one way to do that.”

MUSL is a 38-member consortium of lottery agencies. Powerball, its primary product, is played in 45 states, plus DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Game Overhaul?

Powerball overhauled its gameplay in October of 2015 in order to generate larger jackpots. MUSL reduced the number of powerballs by nine, but increased the number of white balls by 10.

Some players erroneously thought the reduction in powerballs made their chances of winning the jackpot better. But it made them worse — 1 in 175.2 million, to 1 in 292.2 million.

With Powerball constantly grabbing headlines for its ever-growing massive jackpots, Mega Millions followed suit two years later by also making its jackpot harder to win. The top five largest lottery jackpots in US history have all been won since 2016.

COVID-19, however, has resulted in reduced play.

Powerball has been facing multiple challenges — product relevancy, jackpot stagnation, and ticket resellers and synthetic lotteries marketing Powerball tickets worldwide without contributing to vital public programs and services supported by lotteries,” an MUSL statement explained.

“The Powerball Product Group has been researching numerous options to address these challenges. This research began pre-pandemic, and remains in discussion and under development,” the release added.

Powerball says of the $2 ticket cost, 50 percent goes towards game prizes. Thirty-five percent benefits the good causes supported by the lottery where the ticket was sold, six percent is allocated for retailer commissions, and nine percent to cover operating expenses.

Jackpots Growing

With tens of millions of Americans going on furlough or losing their jobs in 2020, many have tightened their wallets and suspended buying lottery tickets.

That has resulted in Powerball and Mega Millions doing away with starting guarantee minimum jackpots, as well as guaranteed jackpot minimum increases between draws.

However, Powerball is currently on a roll. The current jackpot is at an estimated $321 million. That’s the highest number since late January when a lucky winner in Florida hit a $394 million jackpot.

Mega Millions is currently at an estimated $352 million, the game’s second-highest jackpot in 2020. An Arizona ticket hit the jackpot in June worth $410 million.

Devin O'Connor

Gaming Legislation, Politics, Casino Business, Entertainment----Devin O’Connor’s passion for politics and background in the world of pop culture television give him insight into the gaming industry backstories that often drive news these days. After graduating from Penn State University with a theater arts degree, he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom from 2005 to 2010 as a writer and producer, where his credits included Total Request Live, New Year's Eve specials, and a special featuring poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. He later moved on to the HGTV/DIY Network, where he created, wrote, and produced three series specials: That's So House Hunters, That's So 80s, and That's So 90s. Devin came on board with Casino.org in 2014. He lives in Pennsylvania, and is an avid marathoner, having completed 15 races to date. Email: devin.oconnor@casino.org

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  • I will quit playing Powerball if it goes international. The house winnings of 50% is far better than what casinos make on the slots. So what if it is down right now, everyone's business is down, and will come back when the pandemic is behind us. If they want foreign business, create lotteries in those countries, but leave our dollars here. I also think a $3 dollar ticket is too much, with 3 drawings a week it will cost $9 a week to play one number as opposed to $4 a week now. I think Powerball is going to see less tickets bought instead of more revenue.

  • I totally agree with others that the Mega and Power Ball games should stay in America only. As others have said we give enough in aid to
    these countries--do they do anything to help us? America has got to stop being the policeman of the world and concentrate on its own citizens. I will not be buying anymore Megaball or Powerball tickets--only our own state run lotto.

  • Do y'all realise that the money is not a one-way flow? If Australia joins, they will be paying money into Powerball every week. Or do y'all think that Aussies will get their entires for free?

  • I will no longer buy lottery if it goes out of the country.I will not give my money to an other country. We send enough to other countries.The lottery will lose big time so you think it’s bad now wait.

  • I totally agree . The US lottery system is for US only! If you open up to the world that I will not only not play anymore, I will encourage all US citizens to ban the lottery. The lottery was intended to be a fund for helping the education of US children. Get your minds right MUSL. Do the right thing.

  • If powerball goes international and US spent funds are to be paid to foreign players then I am out as I expect my dollars to benefit states in the US and US players. Why should I keep buying tickets if the money goes out of country. If powerball wants to be played in foreign countries then it must be seperate from US funds.

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Devin O'Connor