Powerball Overhaul Pays Off Immediately

Lottery officials said changes in the multi-state Powerball game would lead to larger jackpots sooner. It has already happened, not quite a month into the change.  The jackpot for the drawing on February 11th was up to 325 million dollars by Friday afternoon.

Brisk sales were pushing the jackpot up to its highest mark since the summer of 2007.  By noon Friday, tickets were selling at a pace of more than $6,800 per minute in Pennsylvania alone.  The highest Powerball jackpot ever is $365 million, but Saturday night’s jackpot will offer the highest lump sum cash prize.

Pennsylvania Lottery Director Todd Rucci says this is what they had hoped would happen with the changes in the game. He says the focus was to get larger jackpots sooner. 

Rucci says about 30 cents of each dollar spent on the lottery in Pennsylvania goes to programs for older Pennsylvanians.  This Powerball run has already generated more than 13 million dollars to the lottery fund.

Rucci says they’re trying to separate Powerball from Mega Millions. He says with the changes, it hopefully creates a little more excitement about Powerball.  He says they’re seeing that so far, and excited about where it’s going and where it’s headed.

Rucci says they’re hopeful that this is a good change for the Lottery, but they’ll have to wait and see the long term effects.

Rucci reminds people, with heightened interest in the big jackpot, to have fun but play responsibly.

The jackpot run started in late December. The changes, which included raising ticket prices to $2.00, began January 15th.

Pennsylvania Lottery Announces 13th Millionaire Raffle

13 could be a lucky number for a lot of Pennsylvanians.  Tickets go on sale November 18th for the Lottery’s 13th Millionaire Raffle.   Four lucky ticket holders will kick off  2012 as millionaires.  The drawing   will take place on New Year’s Eve. 

In addition to the four top prizes, there are four second prizes of $100,000 each, 100 prizes of $1,000 each, and almost 59 hundred prizes of 100 dollars.

Lottery spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell says only 500 thousand tickets will be sold, until they run out. The previous 12 raffles all sold out.  The tickets are 20 dollars each.

The odds of hitting the top prize are 1 in 125 thousand. The odds of winning one of 6,000 prizes are about 1 in 83.

The lottery encourages people not to wait too long if they plan to buy one of the raffle tickets, since it’s a limited pool of tickets.   Proceeds from lottery games go to programs that benefit older Pennsylvanians.

Changes Coming to Powerball Early Next Year

Powerball turns 20 next year and there will be some changes in how the game is played, and how much it will cost for a ticket.    The goal is to create more millionaire winners and increase the odds of winning a prize in Powerball.  

Elizabeth Brassell, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Lottery, says the number of balls in the red Powerball pool will be reduced from 39 to 35.   In addition, the opening jackpot will double to 40 million dollars and the second, match five jackpots will increase from 200 thousand to 1 million dollars.  

Brassell says odds today of winning any prize are 1 in 35.  She says that will improve to 1 in 31.8, and the odds of winning a jackpot prize will improve from 1 in 195 million to 1 in 175 million.

Brassell says not only do they anticipate larger prizes for more Pennsylvania Powerball players, they also think the enhanced game will expand Powerball sales.  She says that will contribute more to the bottom line of those programs for older Pennsylvanians the lottery was created to fund.

When the changes take effect, a ticket to play Powerball will cost $2. Tickets for the new version of the game go on sale January 15th.

In anticipation of the changes, the lottery has to start limiting the advance play feature starting this month.  Players now can purchase up to 13 weeks, or 26 drawings, in advance.  October 19th is the last opportunity to purchase 26 draws in advance.   Drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Powerball is a multi-state game.

House Votes to Update Caregiver Program

Vicki Hoak is executive director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association.

Vicki Hoak is executive director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association.

Pennsylvania’s Family Caregiver Support Act was written to reimburse eligible families for expenses relating to caring for an older adult at home, but reimbursement rates have never increased and restrictive guidelines have kept many families on the outside looking in.  “In fact, these restrictions have led to almost $1-million dollars going unspent last year,” says executive director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association Vicki Hoak.  That’s despite a waiting list for the program. 

The state House voted unanimously (199 – 0) for a bill that would ease those restrictions to allow non-relatives into the program, and increase the maximum monthly reimbursement rate from $200 to $500 dollars.  “I developed a keen interest in the program, and became concerned with the fact that despite the obvious increase in our cost of living, since the program began in 1990, the reimbursements to caregivers were never adjusted upward,” says the bill’s prime sponsor Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford), who has personal experience as a family caregiver.   

Advocates say seniors want to age in their own homes, and State Rep. Phyllis Mundy (D-Luzerne) points out that it’s far less costly to care for a person at home than in an institutional setting.  “The economic value of Pennsylvania’s caregivers has been estimated in the billions,” Mundy said on the House floor.  “Without the support of these unsung heroes, our commonwealth would face even greater fiscal challenges.” 

This is the fourth time the House has passed such a bill, and Rep. Baker hopes this is the year it makes it past the goal line.  He says the Corbett administration has indicated its support.  Up next for HB 210 is the State Senate, where Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) has introduced a companion bill.  The Family Caregiver Support Program is funded through the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Lottery Fund

Pennsylvania House Votes to Give PA Lottery a Financial Check Up

The Pennsylvania Lottery will be getting a financial check up.  The state House of Representatives has adopted a resolution that directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to prepare a report on lottery sales forecasts, in both the short and long term.

Representative Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), the sponsor of the resolution, says the last financial review was conducted in 1994.

Causer says a lot has changed since then, and he wants to make sure there’s sustainable funding for the valuable programs the lottery supports.  The resolution, HR 106, cites the introduction of casino gambling and lingering concern regarding the potential impact of slot machines and table games on lottery sales.

The committee will look at whether state Lottery fund revenues are sufficient to support lottery-funded programs at existing or expanded levels or if cutbacks or program changes will be needed to maintain the solvency of the fund. The panel will also determine if any changes to law, regulation or policy are needed.

Lottery funded programs include Area Agencies on Aging, PACE, PACENET, long term living, Property Tax and Rent Rebates and shared ride services.

The   committee will have six months to complete the study.   The report will be submitted to the Aging and Older Adult Services and Finance Committee.

The vote to approve HR 106 was unanimous.