Monday, December 8, 2014

Powerball changing again...

Not much to say at this point in time, as usual lottery officials are tight-lipped even amongst themselves. There are a few things I can say for sure. Florida has already begun drawing down advance play in preparation for an April 12th launch date. As for the game itself: according the New Hampshire lottery's meeting minutes from October, the odds of winning will be getting longer (as if there was any doubt). The odds will go to about 1 in 285 million. That should translate to 66 white balls and 32 Powerballs in the new matrix, at least my calculations say so. Also, and I may have read the meeting minutes wrong, but it sounds like the multiplier feature will now be included in the base Powerball game: any prize below the 3rd tier (4 white + 1 PB) will be subject to the multiplier at no additional charge. A different $1 add-on will be available, no word on what that might be.

A lot is still uncertain, and what I said above might change between now and next Spring. One concern I have regards the price. It seems unlikely with the increased matrix, but I can't say for sure if the base price will remain $2. It probably will, but anything's possible. Plus, there are a lot of variables regarding the now-integrated PowerPlay, how the new $1 add-on will work, and what changes will be made to the prize levels. Could there be another change to the jackpot annuity structure? After all, it's just there at this point to inflate the advertised prize; it's become the lottery version of the 9/10ths of cent on gas prices. I digress, though; we'll all just have to stay tuned!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mega Money "ending" in Florida

I put in the parentheses because the game isn't actually ending in the truest sense. More than anything it's just changing it's name, as if it was a purple-loving musician from Minnesota. Instead of Mega Money, it will now be called Lucky Money. The game for the most part is the same; it's still a pick 4+1 format, the jackpot is still capped at $2,000,000 and any money in excess of that still rolls down to the other amounts, and it's still $1. The only changes are in the matrix; instead of 44 main balls and 22 mega balls, there will now be 47 main balls and 17 "lucky" balls; plus EZmatch will now be available. The result of the matrix change is slightly better overall odds, but roughly the same odds of winning the jackpot. The new top prize odds are 1 in 3,032,205; just a slight increase from Mega Money's odds of 1 in 2,986,522. 

Clearly this change is being made for one reason, and one reason only: people were confusing Mega Money with Mega Millions. No one at the lottery had any reason to believe there was anything wrong with the game; that's why they made such comparatively small changes. Take a look at the new prize structure and compare it to Mega Money.

MatchAvg. PrizeOdds
Match 4+1Jackpot1:3,032,205
Match 4+0$2,1701:189,513
Match 3+1$3401:17,629
Match 3+0$601:1,102
Match 2+1$221:559.6
Match 1+1$31:61.43
Match 2+0$21:34.98
Match 0+1Free Ticket1:24.57
Overall Odds: 1 in 11.32

I for one am glad they aren't making radical changes. Mega Money was fine as is; the format is a variant on the Winfall format that was exploited in Massachusetts, only this has little to incentivise future schemers. Despite the lack of exploitability, it's still a format that can benefit the smart player. Mega Money will live on, just with a new name.