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Lotteries long for 'jackpot fever'

Mega Millions / PowerballMega Millions / Powerball: Lotteries long for 'jackpot fever'

To lottery players, $100 million ain't what it used to be.

A seven-month streak of jackpots that were big, but not gigantic, has sent traditional lottery sales plummeting in many states.

In the past six months, Mega Millions sales are down 30% in Texas compared with a year earlier and 38% in Massachusetts. Powerball sales are off 6% in Wisconsin.

The USA is suffering from "jackpot fatigue," lottery officials say.

"There was a time when $50 million created a stir. Then we needed $100 million," says Bobby Heith of the Texas Lottery. "Now even that's not good enough."

The two big multistate lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball, are in a run of low jackpots. An exception: James Wilson, 84, a retired St. Louis electrician, and his wife, Shirley, 79, won a $254 million Powerball jackpot Jan. 24.

Mega Millions had five jackpots above $200 million in the 12 months that ended June 30, including one for $315 million. The result: record sales of $1.5 billion.

Since then, Mega Millions has had no jackpots reach $200 million. Jackpots of $125 million and $163 million have stirred little excitement or coverage.

Lower jackpots occur by chance. More winning tickets have been drawn, so pots haven't risen for the next drawing. Current prizes:

  • $106 million for Mega Millions, sold in 13 states, including California, New York and Texas. (Odds of winning: 1 in 176 million.)
  • $46 million for Powerball, sold in 29 states, plus Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Odds of winning: 1 in 146 million.)

The advertised jackpot is the amount to be paid over 26 years for Mega Millions and 30 years for Powerball. Most winners pick an immediate payment, usually 33%-40% of the advertised prize, after taxes.

Despite struggles in traditional lotteries, most state lotteries are doing fine because of other games' popularity. Scratch-off tickets that sell for $10 and $20 and offer instant million-dollar prizes do well.

As a result, lottery revenue is flat or up slightly in most states.

Concerns about lottery sales have led some states to consider selling the games to private investors for billions of dollars.

USA Today

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63 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by tony95.
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United States
Member #34266
March 1, 2006
188 Posts
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Posted: February 13, 2007, 2:51 pm - IP Logged

I believe the reality of the long odds of winning are hitting home.  Once upon a time I played $5.00 a draw, now I play $1.00  a draws.  I live in NY state, as far as I know their has never been a MM Jackpot winner outside of New York City.  The majority of second place winners, are also in NYC.    The why bother factor has kicked in for me.  I really see myself this time next year not participating at all in the lotteries.

    MissNYC's avatar - diva
    Westchester, New York
    United States
    Member #49345
    January 27, 2007
    168 Posts
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    Posted: February 13, 2007, 3:21 pm - IP Logged

    I think that people are so desensitized to money as a result of media exposure to celebrity life, that 100 million just isn't as appealing as 300, or better yet, 400. Would I like to win 100 million dollars, you bet, but I would spend more on playing if the jackpot was over 300 million. And it doesn't seem to be helping that the Mega Millions and Powerball Lotteries have rarely seen large "mega" jackpots in the last year. I think people aren't playing because people are winning when jackpots are too low. Part of playing lotto is the dream, and it's always funner to dream bigger. I think that Mega Millions and Powerball should add a number or two to the pools to decrease the odds of winning even more. What's the worst thing that can happen, a 400 or 500 million dollar lottery that someone would eventually win, and you better believe more people would play with the media exposure a jackpot like that would create. People buy scratch off tickets or play their local lotteries for average jackpots, but I believe people want their multi-state lotteries to give them the mega jackpots they once promised. They haven't been delivering, so people haven't been playing.

      sirbrad's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
      PA
      United States
      Member #22983
      October 6, 2005
      2226 Posts
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      Posted: February 13, 2007, 3:46 pm - IP Logged

      Rest assured, $50 million is plenty enough for me, I just get sick and tired of never winning most of the low tier prizes; let alone the jackpot. I have been suffering from "lottery fatigue" for years now. The media hype only comes in now if someone wins hundreds of millions, so it makes anything less than that seem like not as big of a deal. Until you win it.

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        charlotte nc
        United States
        Member #3249
        January 6, 2004
        27 Posts
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        Posted: February 13, 2007, 4:05 pm - IP Logged

        There's alot of truth to this story, I still play but no more than 4-5$$ a draw $4.00 if it's under 100 million and $5.00 if it's over. I used to play 20-25 a week but the best I ever did was the $3.00 prizes I mean I never won a grand or more. so after all these years I just decided to cut back to 4-5 dollars a draw.

          Avatar
          Knoxville
          United States
          Member #13510
          April 7, 2005
          89 Posts
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          Posted: February 13, 2007, 4:08 pm - IP Logged

          Agreed, the lotteries have brought this on themselves by ever increasing the odds.  Once upon a time 80million to 1 was the Powerball odds, now we are expected to buy in to 145million to 1 odds.  People just aren't as dumb as they would like.  My suggestion is to drop the odds on the regular powerball to 100million to 1 and add a Mini-Powerball game with something like 30million to 1 odds.  This way players can choose from a long shot to a very long shot depending on their personality.  Right now I only have the option to play 145million to 1 Powerball or my state lottery's 500,000 to 1 Pick 5 which leaves me out in the cold as far as having an option that suites my personal preferrence. 

           

          We don't have a Mega Millions but I couldn't imagine buying a ticket with 175million to 1 odds and having an ounce of faith that I could get anything out of it.  Before Powerball went to 145m:1 odds I would start buying at $50 million dollar pots, now I wait for $100 million and I am definitely buying less tickets, mainly because I believe I am throwing my money away at these odds and I need an exponentially greater incentive to play the jacked-up version. 

            Avatar
            Knoxville
            United States
            Member #13510
            April 7, 2005
            89 Posts
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            Posted: February 13, 2007, 4:14 pm - IP Logged

            The mistake lottery officials make is thinking that simply increasing the odds will create larger jackpots which will increase buzz, but that's not how most players think.  Jacked-up odds means a much greater expectation of huge pots which creates a loss of buzz during these long build-up periods.  It takes about a month for Powerball to get up to a $100 million.  Also, with the increased odds PB has fewer winners to annouce each year which hurts them with players.  Buzz is not only created by large jackpots, it seems to be created when the jackpot nears or exceeds the odds of winning.  I see this in every lottery I play.  When our little Pick 5 reaches $500,000 sales start to go through the roof.  Same with Florida's Lotto which doesn't have to reach $30 million before players are ready to jump in.  I think the Mega Millions and Powerball officials have gone in the wrong direction, but I doubt the high paid executives will ever admit their mistakes, more likely they will have to be thrown out for lagging sales before we see a positive change.  I wonder if the officials thought they would raise the odds and people would only notice higher jackpot, but not consider the diminishing chance of a win.

              Avatar
              Knoxville
              United States
              Member #13510
              April 7, 2005
              89 Posts
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              Posted: February 13, 2007, 4:30 pm - IP Logged

              I think that people are so desensitized to money as a result of media exposure to celebrity life, that 100 million just isn't as appealing as 300, or better yet, 400. Would I like to win 100 million dollars, you bet, but I would spend more on playing if the jackpot was over 300 million. And it doesn't seem to be helping that the Mega Millions and Powerball Lotteries have rarely seen large "mega" jackpots in the last year. I think people aren't playing because people are winning when jackpots are too low. Part of playing lotto is the dream, and it's always funner to dream bigger. I think that Mega Millions and Powerball should add a number or two to the pools to decrease the odds of winning even more. What's the worst thing that can happen, a 400 or 500 million dollar lottery that someone would eventually win, and you better believe more people would play with the media exposure a jackpot like that would create. People buy scratch off tickets or play their local lotteries for average jackpots, but I believe people want their multi-state lotteries to give them the mega jackpots they once promised. They haven't been delivering, so people haven't been playing.

              I think this is completely wrong and is the misconception that is killing the lotterys.  Very few people are saying, I am not playing because $100 million simply isnt enough money.  People aren't playing because they don't believe they can win.  The year before they raised the PB odds, the lottery went to $200 million three times and somehow that wasn't good enough?  When I wrote to officials I actually got a reply that the PB only went to $200 million once, because he didn't acknowledge the times it went to $190+ million.

              You say add a number or two and I say that if they do that then very few will play until the pot gets to $300 million which means people will be sitting out for months waiting on the pot to build and I would probably never play such a game.  Are you seriously suggesting raising the odds to 200million to 1 to encourage people to play? 

              As for people hitting the pots early, you CAN'T stop people from hitting the Jackpot at all ranges of the spectrum, that's what randomness is all about.  People need to be realistic.

                Badger's avatar - adu50016 NorthAmericanBadger.jpg
                Wisconsin
                United States
                Member #1303
                March 27, 2003
                1508 Posts
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                Posted: February 13, 2007, 6:03 pm - IP Logged

                I believe the reality of the long odds of winning are hitting home.  Once upon a time I played $5.00 a draw, now I play $1.00  a draws.  I live in NY state, as far as I know their has never been a MM Jackpot winner outside of New York City.  The majority of second place winners, are also in NYC.    The why bother factor has kicked in for me.  I really see myself this time next year not participating at all in the lotteries.

                I agree. The big jackpot lotteries have such ridiculously long odds that more than a buck or two on them isn't worth it, no matter what the jackpot amount is.....besides, I don't need a hundred million dollars to retire and live confortably. A couple of million pre-tax would be plenty. I don't have a desire to be that extravagant.

                ============

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                  United States
                  Member #10720
                  January 23, 2005
                  933 Posts
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                  Posted: February 13, 2007, 6:07 pm - IP Logged

                  Here is a LIST of the reasons for the "cool down":

                  -There have been so many jackpots over 100 million. When 50 million was noteworthy it was because it was unusual.

                  -There is an inflation effect. If you want to buy a house for cash you need to win about 1 million (advertised annuity) or more!

                  -There are always stories (and TV series) about people who won big but were even more miserable after.

                  -People are tired of buying loads of tickets and then having hardly any matching numbers let alone 2 or 3 on one line, and then find out that 2+bonus pays only 4 dollars.

                  -People don't buy 100 at a time, they maybe get 5 dollars on a whim. The last several winners played only 5 or 10 dollars.

                  -After taxes and cash option the jackpot is 1/3 of the advertised amount and people are wising up to this.

                  -I dispute that it's harder to see large jackpot amounts. They do come around often enough - look at MM right now. If the jackpots don't get quite as high it's because MORE STATES ARE PLAYING and PEOPLE ARE WINNING JACKPOTS MORE OFTEN. But they also keep adding more balls so that it's that much harder to win a SMALLER prize.

                  -I dispute a lack of interest in the Lottery in general. I still often have to wait a long time for someone to recite 100 different Pickit numbers because they don't want to fill out betslips.

                  -Remember when not only you had to wait 3 hours on line for Powerball, and you could only get Quick Picks? Do you want to go back to that?

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                    New Jersey
                    United States
                    Member #21206
                    September 4, 2005
                    949 Posts
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                    Posted: February 13, 2007, 6:20 pm - IP Logged

                    I play be expectation value, the ratio of the prize to the odds.  The long odds have decreased my playing.

                    But for the lotteries, it comes down to luck, as it does for the players.  Long odds do not assure rollovers.   

                    They do make rollovers more probable, but not necessarily large jackpots.

                    I would try better odds if I wanted to increase sales, but it's hardly my call. 

                      MissNYC's avatar - diva
                      Westchester, New York
                      United States
                      Member #49345
                      January 27, 2007
                      168 Posts
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                      Posted: February 13, 2007, 7:20 pm - IP Logged

                      I think this is completely wrong and is the misconception that is killing the lotterys.  Very few people are saying, I am not playing because $100 million simply isnt enough money.  People aren't playing because they don't believe they can win.  The year before they raised the PB odds, the lottery went to $200 million three times and somehow that wasn't good enough?  When I wrote to officials I actually got a reply that the PB only went to $200 million once, because he didn't acknowledge the times it went to $190+ million.

                      You say add a number or two and I say that if they do that then very few will play until the pot gets to $300 million which means people will be sitting out for months waiting on the pot to build and I would probably never play such a game.  Are you seriously suggesting raising the odds to 200million to 1 to encourage people to play? 

                      As for people hitting the pots early, you CAN'T stop people from hitting the Jackpot at all ranges of the spectrum, that's what randomness is all about.  People need to be realistic.

                      I don't think that raising the odds will encourage people to play, I think that larger jackpots will. Yeah there will be a waiting period, but it is also likely that the jackpot will remain larger longer, and despite the odds, if there is a 400 or 500 million dollar jackpot out there, people will be more likely to at least buy 1 ticket. My point is that for better odds and smaller jackpots, I play my local lottery, but I'll only fork over the money for the megamillions when their are "mega" jackpots. I guess you can say it's the odds that will keep me from playing when the pot is small, but when it grows, the odds don't really mean a whole lot, at least to me.

                        dphillips's avatar - littleuns
                        Albuquerque, New Mexico
                        United States
                        Member #5128
                        June 18, 2004
                        377 Posts
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                        Posted: February 13, 2007, 7:32 pm - IP Logged

                        Will someone please tell me, what is wrong with our American society that  some people don't feel the lottery is worth their time or their money unless it's $200 million or more?

                        I would be grateful (and the operative word is grateful) to win $15 million. People need to get off their pompous, high horses because...most people don't make $100,000 or more a year!

                        Now, it seems that some people lust for more and more -- they have become greedy to the extent that even the word greedy is vulgar, distasteful, disdainful, and sinful.  Let's be thankful for what we receive because there are many people who would damn near give their right arm for a $15 million win -- let alone -- a $200 million lottery hit!

                        See Ya!-- Bye, bye!  When you win, may you glow as brightly as theSun Smiley


                          United States
                          Member #3676
                          February 10, 2004
                          425 Posts
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                          Posted: February 13, 2007, 7:37 pm - IP Logged

                          Because playing a game that has odds of 140 million to one for a 15 million jackpot that is watered down through cash value and taxes to about 4.5 million is hardly a good investment. If you would be happy with 100k why dont you play games that will give you a better chance at winning that than pissing your money down the toliet trying to chase down totally astronomical odds.

                            dphillips's avatar - littleuns
                            Albuquerque, New Mexico
                            United States
                            Member #5128
                            June 18, 2004
                            377 Posts
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                            Posted: February 13, 2007, 7:45 pm - IP Logged

                            For clarification, my reference to the $100,000 a year was based on salary, not a particular game or games. People get out of their beds, day-after-day, making less: $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, etc. Yes, there are executives making 6 figures -- and some are not playing the lottery.  It seems as if they are content with what they are making.  That was my original point!

                            See Ya!-- Bye, bye!  When you win, may you glow as brightly as theSun Smiley