Playing US Powerball Online
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Powerball draws are held Wednesday and Saturday at 10.59pm (Eastern Time) and are usually held at the Florida Lottery’s studio in Tallahassee. Playing Powerball costs $2 (initially it was $1 but went up in 2012) with the Power Play $3 (this increased from $2 in 2012). You need to be 18 years of age to play Powerball. However, in Nebraska it is 19, and in Arizona, Iowa and Louisiana it is 21.

History
The Powerball lottery game is one of the largest lotteries in the world. It is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association and is played in 45 lotteries across the USA. That’s every state apart from Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah.

It was back in 1992 that Powerball replaced the Lotto America game that had been launched in 1988. History was made when the first ever Powerball draw took place on April 22, 1992.

Rather than there being just one drum used to determine the winning numbers, Powerball used two. This meant that players had to match the five white balls drawn out in the main drum and the all-important red Powerball draw chosen in other drum. This increased the odds of players matching all six balls required to win the jackpot leading to higher prizes.

Draws initially took place at the Screenscape Studios in West Des Moines in Iowa hosted by Mike Pace. It went on the road in 1996 with five draws held in Atlanta during the Summer Olympic Games.

However, this all changed when Florida joined the game. One of the conditions of there doing so was holding the twice-weekly draw. This led to the draw taking place at the Florida Lottery’s studio in Tallahassee.

Changes Made to Powerball in October 2015
In October 2015 several important changes were made to the Powerball game. As with the UK Lotto, there has been an increase in the number of balls in the game.

An additional ten balls have been added to the main draw meaning there are now a total of 69 for players to choose from. Five of these are drawn out followed by the Powerball in the other drum. The number of balls in that drum has been decreased from 35 to 26.

These changes are aimed at producing even higher Powerball jackpots. The overall odds of winning the jackpot have increased from 1 in 176 million to 1 in 293 million. The odds of winning any prize have fallen from 1 in 31.85 to 1 in 24.87.

Another major change has been in the prize awarded for the third tier. To win this you have to match four of the main balls and the Powerball. Previously this won players $10,000 but it has risen to $50,000.

These are the first major changes to the game since 2012 when the minimum jackpot was increased to $40m and a $1m prize introduced for matching the five main balls.

“Powerball has been revamped several times in its 23-year history to continue to deliver the big jackpots people expect from the game” said Vernon Kirk, Director of the Delaware Lottery.

Power Play
There has also been a major change made to the Power Play option in the game. This is the $1 additional payment that is made which allows non-jackpot prizes to be multiplied by between two and five times. From October 2015 the maximum multiplier is now ten times the normal prize but this only applies to winnings less than $1m. There had previously been Powerball draws with a 10x multiplier but this will now be available in all draws.

The previous third tier prize was only $10,000 with a 5x multiplier possible. Now players could win $500,000 if the new $50,000 amount was to be multiplied by ten.

The Power Play option isn’t available in California where payouts are pari-mutuel.

Where to Play
Tickets for the Powerball draw can be purchased in person at shops and supermarkets or from State Lottery sales terminals. Some States do allow online sales but not to residents from other States due to the gambling laws in the USA.
The Prize Fund
Payment of jackpot winnings can be made in one of two ways. Players can either have their winnings paid as an annuity over a period of 30 years (initially 20). Since 1997 though players can receive their winnings as a one-off lump sum payment.

Those who decide to receive their jackpot winnings as an annuity receive the cash plus interest earned when the prize amount is invested by the organizers. The first payment is made straight away and then an annual payment is received every year for the next 29 years and are subject to taxation.

If accepting the cash payment, you receive a lesser amount which is all of the cash in the jackpot prize pool. It is then subject to Federal withholdings and State income tax

Generally, the rule is that players have to make their choice on how to receive their winnings within 60 days of claiming the prize.

The rule is different in some states that play the game.

Florida and Missouri – the 60 days starts from the date of the draw.

Idaho – players must make their choice 30 days after claiming their prize.

New Jersey and Texas – the choice has to be made when playing. This decision is binding in Texas but a change of mind can take place in New Jersey.

Prior to the new rule changes, the largest ever Powerball jackpot was $590,500,000 won in May 2013 by, Gloria C. MacKenzie, 84 purchased in Florida. Only two Mega Millions jackpots have been higher than this figure.

Under the new rules officials dream that one day the jackpot will reach $1bn, and that didn’t take long to happen.On January 13, 2016 the Powerball jackpot was finally won after reaching $1.6bn. Three winning tickets shared the jackpot.

Claiming prizes
About half of the lotteries are required to put the money back into a game. The other half is required by law to turn the money over to the state’s general fund. If a jackpot is unclaimed, the money must be returned back to all lotteries, in proportion to their sales for the draw. The lotteries then distribute the money as they are required by law – back into other lottery games or back to the state’s general fund.

  • All prize claims must be made in the state where the ticket was purchased.
  • All Powerball prize winners must claim within a period ranging from 90 days to one year, depending on the rules where the ticket was bought.