Tennesseans hoping to try their luck at big multistate lottery games like Mega Millions or Powerball likely will get their wish by next summer, lottery chief Rebecca Paul said Tuesday.
But before that can happen, the Tennessee lottery must first get the basics up and running -- including its own instant ticket and online gaming systems, Paul said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Lottery officials have set a Feb. 10 start date for selling instant tickets -- "a very, very aggressive schedule," Paul said. But she hopes to launch the lottery even earlier, so it won't conflict with the Tennessee presidential primary set for the same day.
"I'm hoping it will be a little sooner than that. I really don't want to compete" with the primary, she said. "But I don't want to put it back to Feb. 17, because that's $7 million."
Officials estimate the lottery will bring in $1 million a day, she said.
Paul also benefits from starting by Feb. 10. Her pay package -- which includes a base salary of $350,000 -- could reach $752,000 a year with bonuses achieved from starting the games by Feb. 10. The salary makes Paul the nation's highest paid lottery director.
Once instant and online games have begun, Paul says lottery officials will begin considering multistate games.
The big two are Atlanta-based Mega Millions, which began last year with 10 member states, and the 24-state Powerball, based in Urbandale, Iowa.
Mega Millions evolved from the seven-state Big Game, which set an American record for a single jackpot when the lottery hit $363 million in 2000. Jackpots start at $10 million from tickets bought in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Washington.
Paul helped set up Mega Millions while director of the Georgia Lottery.
The largest jackpot for Powerball, which also includes Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, has been $315 million. A membership vote is required for new states to join Powerball, which has brought in four new states over the past three years.
Kentucky is the only state bordering Tennessee that is a member of Powerball.