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Commission Unanimously Approves Adding Powerball To California Lottery

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – It’s too late for California residents to try to cash in on this week’s $588 million Powerball jackpot, but state lottery commissioners voted Thursday to start selling tickets for the game next year.

The five members of the California State Lottery Commission all voted in favor of adopting Powerball during their meeting in Sacramento. Sales of the $2 tickets will begin April 8 and the first draw will be April 10 with a jackpot starting at $40 million.

Excitement over Powerball reached a fever pitch across the nation this week, with last-minute ticket buying enriching the jackpot to nearly $600 million in advance of Wednesday’s drawing. There hadn’t been a winner since Oct. 6, causing the jackpot to roll over 16 times. Two tickets matched all six numbers, but as of Thursday the winners hadn’t stepped forward.

Powerball’s jackpot increases at least $10 million every time it rolls over, according to lottery officials.

To play Powerball, a participant must pick five unique numbers from a field of one through 59, and a Powerball number from one through 35. The Powerball number can be the same as any of the first five numbers.

The odds of winning are 1 in 175,223,510.

Winners can take a single lump-sum payment or annual payments over 30 years.

According to the agenda for the commission’s Thursday meeting, joining Powerball would bring in an additional $90 million to $120 million in sales to California, even with an expected drop off in SuperLotto Plus and MegaMillions tickets. Lottery revenue helps supplement education spending in California.

The director of an anti-gambling organization says this is irony.

“Those who could afford it least, spend the largest percentage of their income on the lottery,” said Rev. James Butler, California Coalition Against Gambling Expansion.

He believes gambling will lead us to poverty and crime.

“Is that worth exploiting and hurting the very people that we hope some of these programs will assist?” he asks.

But the California lottery argues they fight gambling addictions by spreading awareness and offering help lines.

In 2005, California joined the MegaMillions lotto, which set a record jackpot in April with a $656-million grand prize split among three winners.

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