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OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington launched its Mega Millions lottery Friday, joining nine other states to hawk tickets for America's richest jackpots, with profits used to help balance sagging state budgets. Washington is the only participating state in the West.
Merchants and lottery officials said they expect players to line up at the 2,600 retail outlets across Washington, especially in the early weeks and as jackpots build to the $300 million range on occasion.
"We had people coming in all day Tuesday, begging to play," Donnica Arnold, a sales associate at Day/Night Market in Vancouver, Wash, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "The lines will be out the door. It's going to be very popular. All the Oregonians will come here to play."
For $1 a play, gamblers get a chance to strike it rich -- the latest jackpot is $12 million and climbing. The average jackpot is about $80 million. Two have topped $300 million and since New York and Ohio joined the lottery in May, two payouts have topped $100 million.
The overall odds of winning something in the Mega Millions game are 1 in 43. Other prizes for each game range from $2 to $175,000.