July 19, 2013 – It was a busy week in the world of lottery news, as financial reports continued rolling in, jobs were vacated in spectacular fashion, and jackpot games made millionaires while millionaires made the news.
The Powerball jackpot rolled over to $141 million ahead of Saturday’s drawing, the seventh time the jackpot has rolled since a South Philadelphia beer distributor sold a $131.5 million winning ticket which has still not been claimed.
Mega Millions’ jackpot was hit Tuesday night in Houston, Texas, making one lucky ticket worth just over $13 million – the cash option for Tuesday night’s $20 million drawing. Ahead of tonight’s Mega Millions draw, the jackpot sits at its guaranteed $12 million minimum.
News came out this week that Mega Millions will change its format slightly in October in an effort to create larger and faster-growing jackpots. While odds of winning the jackpot will decrease, the odds of winning smaller prizes will increase.
Smaller prize amounts will also increase. Most notably, the second tier prize will jump from its current level of $250,000 to $1 million, matching the Powerball second tier prize.
Sales and revenue records from the past year have been steadily rolling out from U.S. lotteries as they begin fiscal year 2013-2014. This week, Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, Idaho, and Tennessee all announced they’d beaten their previous records for sales and revenue.
The lottery hasn’t been faring quite as well in Illinois. While sales increased this year, profits fell about $150 million short of estimates offered by the Lottery’s operations contractor, Northstar Gaming Group.
In North Carolina, taxpayers may have to pay for the shortcomings of the state’s Education Lottery. Changes in the way lottery proceeds are allocated have left county education budgets looking for more.
While North Carolina used to send 40 percent of their lottery proceeds to school districts, only 23 percent was set aside for education this year – a big problem for school districts with debt they expected lottery funds to cover.
Last Friday, word got out that the former deputy director of security for the Arkansas Lottery pleaded guilty to stealing almost $500,000 worth of scratch-off tickets over his three year employment.
Monday, Arkansas Lottery director Bishop Woosley told the media that the Lottery “had all its bases covered” and while nothing like this will ever happen again, the Lottery is “a better agency for this having happened”.
Robert O’Neill, California’s Lottery director, resigned suddenly last Friday after only a year and a half in his position. In a letter to employees, he said he’d be pursuing other personal and professional goals.
O’Neill’s salary was about $150,000 per year according to reports, and during his tenure he increased sales numbers and brought Powerball to California.
Finally, the shadowy grandmother who won the largest Powerball jackpot in history, Gloria C. Mackenzie, popped up in the news this week after buying a new home in Jacksonville, Fla.
Mackenzie traded up from her small rental apartment in Zephyrhills, Fla., to a 6,322 square foot, five bedroom home in a gated golf course community.
The deed to the house was transferred to Melinda Mackenzie, presumably the big winner’s daughter from the family’s hometown of East Millinocket, Maine.