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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Dreamers hoping to be among the few to change their lives by winning the Powerball lottery will soon have to pay a steeper price for that chance. As of Jan. 15, tickets for the multistate game will double in price to $2, the Associated Press reported.
The change could have a negative effect on sales in a down economy, but officials are reportedly banking on the idea that those same economic woes will motivate people to pay a little more for a bigger payoff. This follows the lead of scratch ticket games, which started out at $1 before expanding to higher price points and larger prizes.
Providing a wider range of price points has resulted in success for states such as Illinois and Tennessee. "The more choices you gave players, the higher the sales were," said Rebecca Hargrove, president of the Tennessee Lottery. "A family of games at multiple price points created the most excitement. Once those kinds of games were introduced, we saw a dramatic increase in sales."
Terry Rich, spokesman for the Multistate Lottery Association that runs Powerball, said people like variety. "We're repackaging and freshening up the product and enriching the product," he explained. Rich predicted that increasing the game's price will make it more attractive to players.
Powerball offers nine ways to win, including a $3 prize for matching the Power Ball number along with payouts for different combinations of winning numbers, according to the report. The amount of Powerball numbers will decrease from 39 to 35, raising the odds of winning from 1 in 192 million to 1 in 175 million.
The starting jackpot is doubling to $40 million, and the prize for matching all five numbers but not the Power Ball itself will rise from $200,000 to $1 million. These changes will differentiate Powerball from fellow multistate lottery Mega Millions, which also has drawings twice a week and carries a price of $1 per ticket.
Gambling expert Clyde Barrow of the University of Massachusetts predicted that sales will dip initially before rising along with jackpot sizes. "As prizes escalate, more people tend to enter the game," he told the AP. "The big draw will be the size of the jackpot. The idea is that at $12 million people don't get too excited, but when it crosses $140 million, more people will play and by increasing the price level of tickets, you will reach that prize level much faster."
However, some regular Powerball players have stated they will simply buy half as many tickets due to the still-small chance they will win a big payout.