A Mega-Jackpot on our border- wanta play?


We are at the end of a year, the end of a decade and with one tenth of the next century in the books, most of us are doing some kind of an assessment.  Where are we, where are we going and what is really different now than it was a year ago,  a decade ago, or way, way back in the 20th century?  Certainly technology will top most lists, the impact of the internet continues to grow and the farther back we look the greater the contrast to our lives before the internet, Facebook and Google and our lives afterwards.

However, for gaming, it occurs to me that the biggest change may be something we barely notice – that is unless the jackpot exceeds a couple of hundred million dollars – the lottery.  The lottery is there such a thing as the lottery?  Wasn’t it just fifty years ago that the first state lottery was legalized after a nearly century long hiatus in the land of illegal gambling?  Since 1963, one state at a time the individual states have adopted legislation legalizing a lottery.  When the cash flow from those state institutions began to falter, as they all did, the lottery directors started to look for new ideas – lots of things grew out of that search, instant lottery tickets, video lottery terminals (slot machines) and extra large – mega – jackpots.

In time, all of the directors understood the size of the jackpot depended on the size of the resident population and was therefor limited – but if they joined with neighboring states the jackpots would get bigger, much, much larger.  New Year’s Eve a drawing will be held for some $237 million jackpot – 42 states will be participating – isn’t that a national lottery?   Twenty or thirty years ago, when IGT introduced its megabucks jackpots, a jackpot of $10 million dollars was huge, groups of people pooled their money and when to casinos in Nevada, sometimes that meant having to drive for hours to get there.  Today those jackpots attract very little attention – now it takes hundreds of millions of dollars to do the same thing.  But it does, once the jackpot rises above the 200 million level, the same behavior surfaces that once characterized a megabucks jackpot – except more extreme, causing traffic jams, long lines at convenience stores and a flood of media coverage.

Some one may start 2011 a great deal richer, but if no one wins the jackpot will grow significantly and so with the enthusiasm and the sales. Not me however, because Nevada is like Utah in maintaining its 19th prohibition against lotteries.  Oh, wait, I can drive a few miles to border of Nevada and California to buy a ticket, and if I do I won’t be alone, the border sales points between the two states are regularly do the highest volume of lottery sales in the state of California.  Want to go in with me on a ticket?

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