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.
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.
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.
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.