Connecticut gaming officials are ready to approve changes to the Powerball lottery, including steeper odds and back-loaded jackpot payments, despite concerns raised last month by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
Paul A. Young, executive director of the Division of Special Revenue, wrote to the governor late last week, saying that the alternative is for Connecticut not to participate in the multi-state lottery game.
Young also wrote that the changes, which already have been approved by the other participating states, still leave participants with astronomical odds against winning the jackpot.
And though the new rules also would delay the largest winning payments to the final decade in a 30-year schedule, more than 90 percent of Powerball winners opt not to receive their prize over the long term, choosing instead to forfeit a portion and take an immediate lump sum prize.
Currently, Powerball involves drawing five numbers from a pool of 53, and a sixth, or "Powerball" number, from a pool of 42. The odds against getting all six numbers and winning the jackpot are 120 million-to-1, Young wrote.
The new rules, which the division is expected to approve this week, would increase the first drawing pool from 53 to 55, raising the overall odds against winning the jackpot to 146 million-to-1.
"The chances of winning the grand prize have always been extremely low," Young wrote, calling this a minor change.
And though the other rule change might discourage some winners from waiting 30 years for their full prize, the new rules also call for the minimum jackpot prize to increase from $10 million to $15 million.
"In my view, such a change to the payout schedule appears to be of no benefit to winners," Rell wrote to Young last month. "In fact, Powerball winners would have to wait at least 20 years to receive sizable payouts. That's unfair, and makes a winner a loser."
But Young said the only alternatives, should Connecticut drop Powerball, are to participate in no multi-state game, or to join the Mega Millions, which would put Connecticut gamblers in a pool with those from New York, California, and other large states. The odds against winning that game's jackpot are 175 million-to-1, he wrote.
Rell wrote she also fears worsening the odds could produce higher jackpots more frequently, and in turn "entice more people to bet beyond their means."
Young responded, "There is no doubt that large grand prizes will attract more attention from the media and, therefore, the public. However, our belief is that consumers realize that their chances of winning the grand prize is a function of sheer luck and they will not dramatically alter their playing habits."