Powerball lottery ticket price to rise by a buck

Powerball lottery ticket price to rise by a buck

January 4th, 2012 by Joan Garrett McClane in News

Becky Thompson, left, sells a lottery ticket to Carolyn Ramsey at Mack's Hi-Way Market on Ringgold Road.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

ABOUT POWERBALL

Powerball drawings are Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:59 p.m. EST, 9:59 p.m. CST. For more information about Powerball, visit www.powerball.com.

Source: Tennessee Education Lottery Corp

In 11 days, Powerball tickets in Tennessee and Georgia will double in cost to $2 per play.

But lottery retailers don't expect the price hike to squash sales because officials say the new game will offer better odds and bigger jackpots.

"These days people are used to a dollar not buying much anyway," said P.J. James, manager of the Lotto Mart in South Pittsburg, Tenn., which is the top lottery retailer in the 13-county Chattanooga region.

Customers grumble about changing the price after 20 years, said James, but Powerball has assured retailers and state lottery corporations that the new cost will mean a better game.

"Everything else is going up," said a man who drove Tuesday from Alabama, which doesn't have a lottery, to the Lotto Mart.

"I hate it, but I will still play. You can't win if you don't play," said the man, who didn't want to give his name.

Powerball, sold in 42 states, is one of the most popular multistate games in the country, and on Jan. 15, the new $2 ticket will make it the most expensive. The other big multistate game, MegaMillions, also sold in 42 states, including Tennessee and Georgia, sells for $1 a ticket.

With nine ways to play, Powerball players can cash in for winnings from $4 to multimillions. Winning is about choosing the right numbers and also getting a Powerball number.

The number of Powerball numbers will decrease from 39 to 35, but odds are improving from an overall chance of winning of about 1 in 35 to 1 in 31.8.

Now, an average jackpot is $141 million. Once the ticket price doubles, officials said the average award will be $255 million.

POLL: Will you pay $2 for a Powerball ticket?

The starting jackpot is set to double to $40 million and will jump by $10 million each draw, according to a statement from Powerball.

The secondary prize for matching five numbers will jump from $200,000 to $1 million, officials said.

"We had a $1 million winner here," said Betty Martin, a clerk at Lotto Mart. "If they had had the ticket after Jan. 15, it would have been $2 million."

For some, the price of Powerball may force them out of the game, but for others it's a routine that won't budge.

At Mack's Highway Market on Ringgold Road, manager Becky Thompson said many people come to buy Powerball and MegaMillions tickets twice a week.

Costs are going up for everything, she said, so she doesn't expect the bigger lottery to draw more people, but she doesn't expect the regulars to stop.

"It is just like buying a loaf of bread and a jug of milk, you can't do it for $5 anymore," she said.

Lottery officials are optimistic about the change and claim the revamped game will generate more dollars for education. And the money is sorely needed.

The lottery program faced an $8 million deficit in December, which is expected to grow to $20 million in the next decade as more people choose to attend a state college with a lottery scholarship.

"It's difficult to predict an exact figure on the economic impact, but since we'll be offering a $2 game with an increased appeal for all players, we expect to generate additional money for Tennessee students and their families," said Rebecca Hargrove, president and CEO of the Tennessee Lottery.

What do you think? Leave a comment on Facebook.