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Colorado Lottery reviewing partnership with Mega Millions

Apr 17, 2009, 12:09 am

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Mega Millions / Powerball

The Colorado Lottery, along with other members of the Multi State Lottery Association (MUSL), is reviewing the option of selling tickets for the multi-state Mega Millions lottery game.

Started in 1996 as the Big Game, Mega Millions has a starting jackpot of $12 million and other prizes ranging from $2 to $250,000. The game would supplement, rather than replace Powerball (operated through MUSL), the mega jackpot game currently offered in Colorado.

"In these tough economic times, lotteries nationwide have to be focused on finding ways to continue supporting the beneficiaries who depend on us," said Colorado Lottery Director Jack Boehm. "If adding a new game can drive sales and increase revenue for the state's parks, trails, recreation centers and open space projects, then we have to be diligent about exploring that option."

The lotteries that sell either Powerball or Mega Millions are evaluating the legal, marketing, security systems and financial issues involved in cross-selling both games. Each game is drawn on a different night; funds the jackpot a bit differently; and has a different process of estimating and guaranteeing the jackpots. In addition, any agreement to sell Mega Millions in Colorado would require authorization by the Lottery Commission, which approves all games offered by the Colorado Lottery.

While there is no specific deadline for deciding whether to cross-sell, the lotteries reviewing the possibility of offering both games would like to move as quickly as practicable. As many as 42 states could offer both games, if an agreement is reached.

The Colorado Lottery has offered Powerball since 2001. In January, the game was re-tooled to increase the starting jackpot from $15 million to $20 million and improve the average jackpot to roughly $141 million from $95.5 million. A group of Nebraska meatpacking plant workers won the largest jackpot on record — $365 million — in 2006. Colorado claimed its first Powerball jackpot winners in October 2007, when SEEP Financial Group won $20 million. The odds of winning any prize in Powerball are one in 36. The odds of winning any prize in Mega Millions are one in 40.

Proceeds from Powerball and the Colorado Lottery's other games — Lotto, Cash 5 and Scratch — stay in Colorado to improve the quality of life in the state. Through Great Outdoors Colorado, the Conservation Trust Fund and Colorado State Parks, the Lottery has provided more than $2 billion in funding since 1983 to build new trails, preserve open space, construct recreation centers and protect wildlife habitat.

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