Changes Coming for Powerball
Sept. 7, 2015 – Powerball players will be happy to hear that in just one month, changes to the game’s rules will make it easier to win smaller prizes. However, there is a tradeoff.
The Powerball jackpot will be almost twice as difficult to win, with the odds of hitting it big lengthening from 1-in-175 million to 1-in-292 million. But the trade seems like a fair one: Powerball’s overall odds will be growing more favorable for players, shifting from 1-in-35 odds of winning to 1-in-24 chances.
Time for a Change
Many LotteryHUB fans have been wondering: “why the change?” A memo from the New York State Gaming Commission in July said that “without these rules changes, the (Lottery) Division would need to remove the Powerball game…and aid to education would be negatively affected.”
Basically, Powerball fans were ready for an update. The last huge payout was the May 2013 win of $590.5 million, which went to 84-year-old winner Gloria C. Mackenzie. In the time since, Powerball sales have dipped by about 19 percent, according to statistics cited in a USA Today article on the upcoming rules changes.
Like any product, updates are needed to keep Powerball fresh. The changes to the prize structure and odds are “…intended to increase the odds of winning any prize while decreasing the odds to win the jackpot,” said Robert Williams, executive director of the New York State Gaming Commission.
How the Game is Changing
That might sound ominous to some players, but the real result of the change is just shifting where players’ money goes. Rather then sending 68 percent of wagers into the jackpot, the new rules will take 64 percent of wagers for the jackpot and spread the rest of the prize money out among the other eight prize options.
So, while the jackpot is harder to win, more of the money players pay into the game is going towards smaller prizes.
To make smaller prizes easier to win, Powerball officials have changed the game matrix, or the size of the sets of numbers the winning numbers are drawn from.
Because matching the Powerball automatically means a win, there are now nine less options; players will choose a Powerball number between 1 and 26, rather than between 1 and 35. To make it more difficult to hit the jackpot – which requires that players match all six numbers drawn – players will have to choose their first five numbers from a set of 69, an increase from the old set of 59 numbers.
The New Prize Structure
Along with increased chances of winning, smaller prizes have the potential to get a lot bigger, too. The most noticeable change to the prize structure is the jump in value for third prizes, which will be worth $50,000. Previously, third prizes won by matching four white numbers and the Powerball were worth $10,000.
The other six lower prizes won’t change in value, nor will second prizes, which are worth $1 million and can multiply to a maximum $2 million with Power Play, Powerball’s optional multiplier.
While lower prize values won’t change, players will still have the potential to win a lot more thanks to changes to Power Play.
When the new rules go into effect, Power Play will offer a 10x multiplier for limited times. The 10x multiplier will be available when the jackpot is worth less than $150 million, and state lotteries can announce special 10x opportunities when they see fit.
With that multiplier, the largest third prize available is worth $500,000! The rest of the prize scale is similarly exciting with the potential for a 10x Power Play number. Matching just the Powerball with a 10x Power Play multiplier would pay out $40, and matching three white numbers and the Powerball (or four white numbers) would pay out $1,000!
Some Powerball players may be uncertain about the need for an update, but in this case change is good. More players will win more prizes, and bigger, faster-growing jackpots will entice more casual players to take a shot at a huge prize. And who knows? We could see a $1 billion jackpot very soon.