Thursday, December 6, 2012

CA Powerball Update

The CA Lottery seemed pretty eager to tell everyone about the upcoming launch of Powerball. They made their press release pretty soon after the announcement. If you want to see the press release, click here. But the basic jist of the story is that Powerball will become available in CA on April 8th of next year. The release also says that the prize pool will be pari-mutuel, like SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions (in California).

I looked at the proposed rules, and there was no mention of PowerPlay; so I can safely say that it won't be available in CA. I thought that with the multiplier gone, and with all PowerPlay prizes the same for each draw; I figured that this could be adapted for pari-mutuel payouts. But the 5/5 prize would probably have a hard time keeping near the $2,000,000 prize all the other states get. In fact, I'd bet that if they had a pari-mutuel PowerPlay available, a 5/5 winner might only get an increase of around $50,000 (if there was a winner in the prior draw). That wouldn't go over too well. So while I thought there might be a possibility of PowerPlay being available in CA, I'm not surprised that they decided to pass on it.

This scheme does provide for a very interesting prospect for the 5/5 prize. It will roll over when there is no winner, like Mega Millions does in CA. Mega Millions has had a few 5/5 "mini-jackpots" worth over $1,000,000. And that's with no Megaplier, and no extra money wagered. However, there have been 5/5 winners that have won significantly less than the quarter-million offered in other states. So it's a double-edged sword, and this will also be the case with Powerball.

The 5/5 prize pool will probably have somewhere in the neighborhood of $500K with each draw, more if the main jackpot is big. So if someone is to win $1 million+ by matching 5/5, there will likely need to be a lack of 5/5 winners the previous draw. If there are 5/5 winners in consecutive draws, they will almost certainly win less than $1 million, probably much less. But there is an upside with the rollover rule. If there's a string of draws with no 5/5 winners, a 5/5 win will net a lot more than $1 million (to a single winner, of course). I wouldn't be surprised to see a 5/5 prize pool of $3,000,000 or more somewhere down the line. Will somebody actually win that much? Nobody knows, but I can say this is definately a fun wrinkle to CA's Powerball.

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