The wait is over for Oklahomans eager to try their luck playing Powerball or tired of driving to neighboring states to play.
Oklahoma joined 27 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands today in what has become one of the most popular lottery games in the world, because of the size of its jackpots — the jackpot hit an all-time high of $340 million in early November.
Tickets went on sale at 4:01 a.m. today for the next drawing on Saturday. A drawing worth an estimated $65 million was held Wednesday.
"We're hoping for a good turnout," said Andy Chapin, owner of Andy's Convenience Store south of Muskogee on U.S. 64. "They (Scientific Games service representatives) are telling me to expect a lot of traffic when the Powerball sales begin."
Chapin said interest in the Pick 3 and scratch-off tickets have slowed some, but sales remain high.
"We were overwhelmed when it (the lottery) first started, but it has become a regular part of doing business.
Customers at Martin's 66 Convenience Store, 1910 N. Main St., were mixed about the Powerball prospects. Several customers said they probably would play but were skeptical about their odds of winning: There's a one chance in 146,107,962 a person will win the grand prize jackpot.
Despite those odds, Crystal McMurtrey said she will be buying at least one Powerball ticket.
"My dad had to go out of town on business, but he gave me strict orders to get him a Powerball ticket when they go on sale," McMurtrey said. "He gave me the numbers to play."
In its nearly 14-year history, Powerball has become a household name. Its worldwide recognition comes primarily from the game's multimillion dollar jackpots, which are offered twice weekly.
Although the giant jackpots are key to Powerball's popularity, the game also offers players a chance to win one of eight other cash prizes, ranging from $3 to $200,000. The overall odds of winning a prize in the games are better than 1 in 37. Jackpots start at $15 million.
Like the Pick 3 game, Powerball results will be printed in the Phoenix and will be available immediately after each drawing on USA Mega at www.usamega.com.
Thirty percent of the proceeds from Powerball ticket sales — just like the other Oklahoma Lottery games — will help fund public education in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma lottery officials said the 29 Powerball lotteries sold more than $2 billion in Powerball tickets in fiscal year 2005, generating more than $600 million for state projects.
While the Powerball buzz has caused some excitement for some, others condemn the lottery in particular and gambling generally.
James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit Christian organization, called on legislators this week to end what he calls "government-sponsored gambling."
"If the nation's politicians don't fix this national disaster, then the oceans of gambling money with which Jack Abramoff tried to buy influence on Capital Hill will only be the beginning of the corruption we'll see," Dobson said in a media release.
Dobson was a member of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which investigated gambling and its ties to political campaign contributions over a two-year period.