Monday, November 26, 2012

Powerball in California: What to expect. (Pre-Announcement Speculations)

12/2/12 Update: The proposed rules have been posted at the CA Lottery website. I will post an update explaining everything soon; but for now, just regard the following blog as a "what could have been?".

11/30/12 Update: This blog was written before the offical announcement from the CA Lottery. But as you can see, it turned out to be correct. But the rest is still speculation for now.

The following blog is mere speculation, except for one thing: Powerball is indeed coming to California sometime in 2013. CA Lottery documents and meeting minutes from the New Hampshire Lottery both say this. However, I can't promise that they will follow through, delays can always pop up. But odds are, this will be 2013's most anticipated game, save for maybe GTA V.

However, California's lottery law will likely create a version of Powerball different from what every other state has. The law essentially requires that all payouts for an online game be parimutuel. This basically means that prize amounts will vary from draw to draw.

This is the rule Mega Millions follows in California. This is a double edged sword for players. On one hand the second prize can rollover and create a mini-jackpot. Players have won $1 million plus for 5/5 without putting down any extra money. The downside, however, is that prizes can end up being quite smaller than what other states get. A Mega drawing in June saw a second prize of about $57K. A lot of money, but significantly less than the $250K they would've gotten somewhere else. And with prize amounts varying as much as this, Megaplier will probably never be offered in California.

So is this what Powerball going to look like in CA? A parimutuel scheme like this would be very interesting because of the large 5/5 prize Powerball has now, and the fact that California will probably offer PowerPlay. It could create some big 5/5 prizes (upwards of $4M with PowerPlay), but could also create some really low prizes (like $300K with PP). That's why I think another situation could take place. Powerball in CA could have a payout scheme similar to Hot Spot, where the prizes are capped at a set amount, and are only lowered if there isn't enough in the prize pool to pay out. So, CA could see semi-fixed prizes in Powerball, and not the varying amounts seen in Mega Millions or SuperLotto Plus. But again, this is just speculation.

And another, unrelated note; what will happen to SuperLotto Plus after this? Move drawings to Mondays and Thursdays? Maybe go back to the old 6/49 format from the 80s? Sales are going to down after this, for sure; so there will probably be changes at some point.


  1. If you look at the regulations California will not participate in PowerPlay, same as Mega Millions. It is impossible to do PowerPlay with any consistency when you are bound by the pari-mutuel rules.

  2. It appears you're right. No mention of PowerPlay in the rules there. I'll post an update in the near future.

    However, the PowerPlay prizes have been fixed since the price increase, and I figured they did this with California in mind. I thought that those inconsistencies would just be swept under the rug, but I suppose not.