Coronavirus Hits the Lottery

Stay-at-home orders cut into lottery ticket sales
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2020 8:47 AM CDT
Lottery Ticket Sales Fall
A billboard along US 75 in Dallas promotes the Power Ball and Mega Millions lottery games Thursday.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

With fewer people out and about during the pandemic, lottery ticket sales are decreasing. It only follows that jackpots would be next. Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots now will be based on ticket sales and interest rates, Quartz reports, with previously guaranteed minimum jackpots on their way out. Until now, both had a guaranteed starting jackpot amount and raised the final figure, based on future sales. "The changes are in direct response to slowing sales during the current global pandemic," the Mega Millions Consortium said, per KENS. For the first week of Michigan's stay-at-home order, for example, ticket sales in the state were off 35% from the year before, per the Detroit News.

"It truly has just reached a point where sales in the Powerball game, if we left the game as it was—we are not going to be able to continue to support the payment of jackpots and the other prizes," a spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery said. Selling lottery tickets online could boost jackpots, but only seven states allow that. "These adjustments will allow the states and jurisdictions that sell Mega Millions tickets to continue generating much-needed revenue to support state budgets," a lottery official said. (More lottery stories.)

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