A Game Changer? A $640 million lottery jackpot, It may just be a game changer

Mega Millions

Mega Millions: $640 MILLION: MEGA MANIA!

There is a story this week that has been on the front page of every newspaper in the country, it is also being reported on all of the major television and radio networks.  It is not a story about war, tsunamis or a collapse of the economy – it is a gambling story; every American is a gambler this week it seems.   Across the nation – in 42 states – people are lined up to buy a lottery ticket.  The Mega Millions jackpot stands at $640 million and will probably get close to $700 million by drawing time this evening; if no one wins this drawing, the next drawing will be for $950 million. Given the feeding frenzy taking place right now, that jackpot could easily exceed a billion dollars.  Just think about it, a chance to win one billion dollars for a dollar.  Just one lonely and increasingly useless dollar; millions and millions of people are thinking about it and dreaming of a life of wealth and ease; after all what else can you buy for a dollar?  Lots of people sell dreams, but no one offers a dream that big for a dollar.

The lines are probably longest in California on the border with Nevada; that is because Nevada is one of the few states not in the Mega Millions multi-state lottery network.   Nevada has no state lottery; in an irony to end all ironies, lotteries are illegal in Nevada.  Nevadans however are dreaming the same dream as other Americans and that is forcing them to go to California for a chance at the dream.  Thousands and thousands of Nevadans are fighting traffic jams to wait in lines for hours for a ticket to dream. They are disrupting business and traffic in both states, but that is one of characteristics of mega-lottery jackpots – they change the patterns of daily life wherever the tickets are on sale.  When the jackpots get over $200 million, the changes begin; this jackpot is so much larger than anything ever seen – in the world – that we are in unfamiliar territory and don’t really know what problems the mass hysteria will cause.

There is only one state where the citizens do not have to brave the traffic, weather and long lines to buy a ticket, Illinois.  Illinois this week, in a stroke of accidental genius, started selling its lottery tickets online; it became the first state to do so.  However,  other states will undoubtedly follow suit; and if they do, a mega jackpot like this one could be common place.  Imagine a country with 42 state lotteries, all online and selling tickets to both Mega Millions and Powerball; the size of the potential jackpots in mind boggling.

Somewhere in the advance of state lotteries – the first, New Hampshire was legalized in 1963 – someone got a brilliant idea, link the states together and create a larger jackpot than any single state could generate on its own.  It has been clear from the beginning of the modern lottery era that big jackpots increase lotteries sales and the bigger the jackpot, the bigger the sales increase.  The first network had 7 states and began selling tickets in 1992.  Currently, 43 states and Washington D. C., the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico now have lotteries, and all but two are linked to the mega-jackpot systems.  At least, 300 million Americans are eligible to play in their home state, or live close enough to drive to an outlet like the citizens of Nevada do.  Not a bad potential market for any product.

Just imagine how large a jackpot might get if all of those lotteries were online; rest assured, just as millions of people are dreaming of winning $640 million, all of the lottery directors in the country are dreaming of the lottery revenues, and of course, their bonuses, will grow when they are all online.  The Department of Justice has cleared the way for just that; the DoJ now says only sports betting online is legal.   At least one state, Iowa beleives it can link with other countries, how about with China and 1.6 additional ticket buyers.  All that is required now is a catalyst for the other 42 lottery states to join Illinois in offering tickets for sale online.  This jackpot or the next or the one after that will be that catalyst.  You can also rest assured that jackpots in the billion dollar range will also cause some changes in the way people spend disposable income; wouldn’t you budget a few dollars a week to win a billion dollars?   This jackpot is a game changer.

2 Responses to “A Game Changer? A $640 million lottery jackpot, It may just be a game changer”

  1. 1 lynne rosner March 30, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Wow, I just want to be the repository that can get overnight interest on the kitty till Yolanda Vega calls the numbers. I’m not cheap. I’ll take the steady gig like that.
    Online you say, hmmm. Maybe I’ll just learn to hack the system and take a couple of thousand every month. I hope I don’t get arrested for putting such nefarious thoughts down in writing.

  2. 2 Ken Adams March 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    You may have the details wrong, but that will be another response to the jackpot mania – online or off; people will begin to look for ways to game the system and avoid the risk of actually buying a ticket to win.

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