Lottery sales across the US are down due to the coronavirus pandemic, as millions of Americans are on on lockdown. As a result, Powerball is further adjusting its game play.
The Powerball Product Group announced this week that following the April 8 drawing, the interstate lottery game’s advertised jackpot will no longer come with an initial minimum guarantee, nor guaranteed minimum jackpot increases.
Last month, Powerball slashed its beginning guaranteed minimum jackpot from $40 million to $20 million due to reduced sales. It also cut its guaranteed minimum rollover increase from $10 million to $2 million.
Now, nothing is guaranteed.
These changes are necessary to ensure that ticket sales can support the Powerball jackpot and other lower-tier cash prizes,” said Gregg Mineo, chair of the Powerball Product Group and director of the Maine Lottery. “Our number one priority is making sure that the Powerball game can continue to assist lotteries in raising proceeds for their beneficiaries.”
Powerball is played in 45 states, plus DC, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands. Drawings are broadcast live every Wednesday and Saturday night at 10:59 p.m. ET from the Florida Lottery draw studio in Tallahassee.
The majority of the proceeds from the sale of a Powerball ticket remain in the jurisdiction where the ticket was sold. Powerball says about 35 percent of a sale benefits “good causes supported by lotteries.”
Mega Millions says it’s considering similar changes to its game.
Thirty-eight states have issued stay-at-home orders for residents, with many closing all non-essential businesses. The directives are impacting approximately 297 million people.
While many lottery retailers remain open, as tickets are sold in essential businesses such as grocery and convenience stores, lottery officials say sales have dropped significantly during the health crisis.
“Since last week, more states and cities have asked their residents to stay at home, which has affected normal consumer behaviors and Powerball game sales,” Mineo explained. “In response to the public health crisis, interest rates have declined. As a result, additional game sales are necessary to fund comparable jackpot amounts.”
Officials at the Pennsylvania Lottery, one of the largest lottery businesses in the country, said sales have dropped about 25 percent.
Numerous state lottery officials are reporting reduced sales. And some retailers aren’t too happy to even be selling the tickets.
In Michigan, retailers are calling on the state to shutter the lottery during the pandemic.
They’re endangering the store owners, the customers,” said Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce in Detroit. “They’ve been asking: why is the Michigan Lottery essential? You have people coming in multiple times a day to buy the lottery. That’s dangerous.”
Michigan Lottery spokesperson Jeff Holyfield said the lottery “will deactivate Lottery equipment for any retailer upon request and without penalty.”
In Pennsylvania, lottery spokesperson Ewa Dworakowski explained, “Because the Lottery’s mission is to generate funding for programs that benefit older Pennsylvanians, there are currently no plans to suspend operations. Many of the essential businesses that remain open, such as grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies, are also Lottery retailers.”
Online lottery games are offered in eight states: Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.