Oct 17, 2014, 11:12 am
Includes video report
Bold new game concept has been years in the making
Updated with 'How to Play' video
By Todd Northrop
A new mutli-state lottery game featuring more but smaller jackpots will debut this weekend in some U.S. states.
The Monopoly Millionaires' Club game has $5 tickets that will be sold starting Sunday in 23 states. The game will have a niche audience that won't compete with Powerball and Mega Millions, the two other national games, according to Rebecca Hargrove, chairwoman of the new game and president and CEO of the Tennessee Lottery.
"If you look at Powerball and Mega Millions, those are truly jackpot-driven games," she said. "This is a completely different game. This is driven by the number of millionaires that will be created when that top prize is hit."
Monopoly Millionaires' Club will be drawn once per week on Friday evenings. The game features a maximum jackpot of $25 million, which sets it apart from multi-state games that have jackpots that continue to roll into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
"We've heard for years, 'Why should one person win $100 million? Why don't 100 people win $1 million apiece?' So that's exactly what we're creating," Hargrove said.
For all its differences, Monopoly Millionaires' Club has some similarities to Powerball and Mega Millions. All three have a set of numbers that need to be matched. With Monopoly Millionaires' Club, that's five numbers between 1 and 52, and a number representing a "property" — inspired by the board game — will range from 1 to 28.
The odds of winning the top prize are 1 in about 72 million. Powerball odds are one in about 175 million and Mega Millions is about 1 in 258 million, Hargrove said.
The concept for a $5 game has been in the works for years, said Terry Rich, president of the North American Lottery Group and CEO of the Iowa Lottery.
"Many times when we do research people ask us, 'Why not give away a lot of million dollar prizes?'" Rich said. "And I think that's where this game began."
Last year alone, lottery sales totaled about $68 billion.
That revenue gets divided three ways: about 60 percent goes to prize winners, 15 percent to retailers and operating expenses and 25 percent — or $17 billion — to help states fund everything from education to housing.
"I think that local states are looking more and more for ways to raise revenues and lottery has been a very popular way to do that," Rich said.
The two-pronged game also offers a chance to win trip to Las Vegas to appear on a new television show that offers a top prize of $1 million.
While the jackpot for the draw portion of the game will never climb as high as it generally does in Powerball or Mega Millions, the structure of the game is likely to produce more $1 million winners.
If someone is lucky enough to match all six numbers (one of which will always be computer generated), other randomly selected players will automatically win a $1 million prize. The catch is that $1 million prizes are only awarded if there's a jackpot winner.
Jackpots begin at $15 million and will roll over to $18 million, $21 million and finally $25 million in subsequent drawings without a jackpot winner, spokeswoman Judy Drucker said.
The number of randomly chosen $1 million winners will also depend on the size of the jackpot. If the jackpot is $15 million — 10 will be selected; at $18 million, 12 are chosen; at $21 million, 14 people will win $1 million.
If someone hits the maximum $25 million jackpot, 16 additional $1 million payouts will be awarded, lottery officials said.
The other element of the game is a shot to appear on a new "Monopoly Millionaires' Club" television show that will begin airing in early 2015. Players will collect "properties" that are displayed on each ticket. When ticket buyers complete a "Monopoly," they can go online and enter the sweepstakes for a five-day, four-night trip for two to Las Vegas to join the show's studio audience of other players.
At least three players from each state will win the Vegas vacation each week, according to lottery officials. The remainder of the 125 players and 125 audience members will be chosen based on ticket sales in each state.
The series will be hosted by comedian and actor Billy Gardell.
Tickets will go on sale on Sunday, October 19, with the first scheduled drawing held on Friday, October 24. Subsequent drawings will be held every Friday at 11:15 p.m. Eastern Time (8:15 p.m. Pacific).
The odds of winning the top prize are 72,770,880 to 1; the odds of winning any of the smaller prizes are 1 in 10.
"Players are always looking for something different," said Carolyn Hapeman, spokeswoman for the New York Gaming Commission. "Any product has to evolve. Our jackpot games have to evolve."
Multistate lotteries began in the 1980s with Lotto America, which became Powerball, said Rich.
Powerball and rival Mega Millions signed a cross-selling agreement in January 2010 that saw 23 state lotteries adding Mega Millions and Powerball picking up 10 Mega Millions members.
Monopoly Millionaires will be "the first where we started out as a big group together," Rich said.
Another nine states are tentatively expected to join Monopoly Millionaires' Club in coming months, including Ohio, California, and Wisconsin, Rich said.
Meanwhile, smaller multi-state lotteries are mushrooming across the nation, such as Iowa and Minnesota's All or Nothing game, which started in January, and New Jersey's Cash for Life, which New York is joining on Oct. 20. Lucky for Life, which began in Connecticut and expanded to five other New England states in 2012, expects to be available in at least 14 more states by spring.
"The games perform a little better with a bigger population base," said Minnesota Lottery Director Ed Van Petten, adding that three more states have asked to sign onto All or Nothing. "With more players, you have more grand prize winners, which makes for better advertising for you and makes the game more kind of in their face."
Participating states launching October 19
States expected to launch post October 19
VIDEO: How to play Monopoly Millionaires' Club
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