Changes in store for Powerball lottery
By DALE WETZEL
Associated Press Writer
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Changes are in store for Powerball, the flagship game of North Dakota’s lottery, in part because it generates large jackpots less frequently than its operators would like, the state lottery director says.
Chuck Keller, who briefed the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about the lottery’s operations, declined to give any details about the changes being explored. He said details about the revamped game should be decided in mid-May and put into effect in October.
The Powerball lottery is played in 29 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Charles Strutt, director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which administers the game, declined Tuesday to give details about proposed changes or confirm the timeline Keller mentioned to state lawmakers. The association is based in Urbandale, Iowa.
“We do research from time to time, and we’re doing lots of research at the moment,” Strutt said. “There’s some talk about ... making a change in the fall, but it’s not 100 percent. There’s been no decisions made on it yet.”
An audit of the North Dakota Lottery’s last budget year showed a 21 percent drop in Powerball ticket sales, which fell from $15.4 million to $12.2 million. The audit covered the lottery’s sales from July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007.
During the year, the lottery’s total revenue grew only 1.4 percent despite the addition of the new 2 by 2 game — which now has drawings seven days a week — and strong sales growth for the lottery’s other two games, Hot Lotto and Wild Card 2.
Keller said the recent addition of other states to the Powerball lineup has made it more difficult for the game to accumulate large jackpots. North Dakota’s Powerball ticket sales, for example, rise sharply when the jackpot rises above $100 million, he said.
“The jackpots have not been as high as forecast, and one reason for that is ... the addition of the population base,” Keller said in an interview.
Published in The Messenger 4.16.08