Powerball lottery organizers are betting that bigger jackpots will entice more people to play, but gamblers are going to have to dig deeper into their wallets to try their luck.
DES MOINES, Iowa — Powerball lottery organizers are betting that bigger jackpots will entice more people to play, but gamblers are going to have to dig deeper into their wallets to try their luck.
Tickets for the multistate game are doubling in price to $2 beginning Jan 15. While the odds of winning one of the game's giant jackpots also are improving, those in charge of the lottery are gambling that people are willing to pay more for the hope of becoming a millionaire in a down economy.
"With the price of everything else going up, there's not much you can get for a dollar anymore," said 28-year-old Ryan Raker, of Des Moines, Iowa, who buys a ticket once a month.
Lottery officials believe increasing the price of the game will make it more attractive to players, said Terry Rich, spokesman for the West Des Moines-based Multistate Lottery Association, which runs Powerball.
Odds of winning are improving because of changes the game is making in the numbers players can choose. The number of Power Ball numbers to choose from will decrease from 39 to 35. That will raise the odds of winning from 1 in 192 million to 1 in 175 million.
Picking the right numbers will have a bigger payoff: The starting jackpot is rising from $20 to $40 million. The amount won for matching all five numbers but not the Power Ball will increase from $200,000 to $1 million.
The move is a strategy to differentiate the game from Mega Millions, the other big money, multi-state lottery game that is sold for $1 a ticket. Both games are sold in Oregon.
It could pay off, because consumers often get more excited about larger jackpots and play more. Clyde Barrow, a gambling expert at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, said larger jackpots should attract more players, even at the higher price.
"As prizes escalate more people tend to enter the game," he said. "The big draw will be the size of the jackpot."