Powerball jackpots traditionally start at a $40 million minimum.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the minimum will be reduced by 50% after someone wins the Powerball’s current estimated $170 million jackpot, according to a recent announcement from the Multi-State Lottery Association (MLSA). Minimum jackpot increases will also be reduced.
The group that operates the Powerball says these changes are a necessary measure to ensure that all 48 US lottery jurisdictions can continue to support local causes with revenue from the game.
Gregory Mineo, the Powerball product group chairman and Maine Lottery director, said, “Just like other enterprises around the world are making adjustments. These proactive changes have been made to preserve the world’s premier lottery product.”
Powerball is one of two national lottery games in the US. According to Time, the other, the Mega Millions, could follow Powerball’s jackpot reductions.
Mega Millions considering reductions
The reduced minimum jackpot is the only change happening with national lotteries at this time. However, the world is changing so quickly due to COVID-19, this could be the beginning.
Gordon Medenica, head of the Maryland Lottery and the director of Mega Millions, said, “the Mega Millions consortium has begun internal discussions about potential changes to address the slowdown in sales during the current health crisis.”
Social distancing, business closures and other sheltering tactics are in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. These techniques could hold the key to any necessary reduction of the Mega Millions jackpot. If the spread of the coronavirus slows down, Mega Millions might not have to reduce jackpot minimums.
Slower economy impacts lottery ticket sales
The spread of the coronavirus is affecting the entire country.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of April 2, there are more than 200,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US and more than 5,000 confirmed deaths.
Nonessential businesses around the US are not open due to the spread of the coronavirus. In turn, the unemployment rate is at a record high and is increasing. The economy is changing rapidly, which means the way consumers spend money is also in flux.
According to the MLSA, the change to Powerball is a necessary measure.
The goal is that this will help ensure that ticket sales support the prizes offered in the Powerball game.
Lottery ticket sales help local businesses generate revenue. They also help governments fund local municipalities. For example, the lottery in North Carolina helps fund education.
The potential for an economic slowdown means potentially fewer participants in the Powerball. Therefore, meeting the initial jackpot minimum could become more difficult. Last week, the Boston Herald reported that lottery ticket sales in Massachusetts fell by $21 million in the previous two weeks.