Roselyn Jones purchases a few Powerball tickets from a station attendant at the Conoco Sunrise Market off of Brainerd Road in Chattanooga, Tenn.(Photo: Dan Henry, AP)
Lottery sales are enjoying a much-needed revival this year, driven by
a pair of $500-million-plus jackpots and rule changes making giant
prizes more likely.
Traditional lotteries - the "pick a number,
get a piece of paper" kind - have had sluggish sales for a decade
because of greater casino competition, a weak economy and political
restraints on how tickets can be sold.
But lottery sales
nationally hit a record $64.7 billion in the year that ended June 30, a
6.8% increase from the previous year, reports the North American
Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. The Census Bureau, which
uses a different method to tally sales, reported lottery sales of $53.1
billion in 2010. Lotteries generate about $18 billion a year for states
for education, roads, sports stadiums and other purposes.
numbers disguise bigger problems at traditional lotteries. Slot machines
- called "video lottery terminals" under some state laws - are driving
much of the new revenue. And lottery expansion has slowed now that 44
states have the games.
energize traditional lotteries, states have turned to a well-tested
strategy: changing the games to create eye-popping jackpots. Mega
Millions had a record-setting $656 million jackpot in March, split among
three winning tickets. Powerball had its biggest prize Wednesday night -
$587.5 million, divided between two ticket winners.
"It's obvious when you have big jackpots a lot of people come out to play," says Danielle Frizzi-Babb of the Ohio Lottery.
How it's done:
doubled its ticket price from $1 to $2 in January, bringing in new
revenue for states and prizes. The game boosted the minimum jackpot to
$40 million and lowered the odds of winning, from 1 in 195 million to 1
in 175 million.
- Powerball and Mega Millions let states sell both
games - not just one - starting in 2010. That doubles the chance of
giant, national jackpots.
In the past, Ohio and other
Mega Millions states would have missed this week's Powerball bonanza.
Instead, Ohio enjoyed a 700% jump in sales Tuesday.
Only two major lottery states don't have both games. Florida does not have Mega Millions. California does not have Powerball.
Lottery spokeswoman Kelly Cripe says the Powerball price hike, the big
jackpots and the popularity of scratch-off, instant lottery tickets
helped boost Texas' sales to a record $4.2 billion in the year that
ended Aug. 30. Sales had hovered around $3.8 billion in the previous
Texas is one of a handful of states offering $50
instant, scratch-off tickets. Other states have been reluctant to
introduce high-priced tickets because of criticism that they hurt
problem gamblers, especially low-income players. Oklahoma's most
expensive instant ticket is $5. California's is $10. Many states offer
State lotteries also missed the boom in Internet commerce.
March, Illinois became the first state to let residents order lottery
tickets online. Georgia started online sales Nov. 21. Other states are