South Florida Gambling

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Throw more money down the drain; Powerball going to $2 per ticket

The Powerball jackpot is getting bigger and there'll be better odds -- but the tickets are getting more expensive.

Effective Jan. 15, a Powerball jackpot ticket will cost $2, according to the Florida Lottery, which is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association. (Powerball, which came to Florida in January 2009, is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.)

But the starting jackpot will become $40 million, up from the current $20 million.

Lottery officials also announced an increased second prize of $1 million for players who match all five numbers (the white balls) but don't hit the Powerball. Right now, it's $200,000.

In the newly designed game, players will still choose their first five numbers from a pool of 59, but the Powerball pool will shrink from 39 to 35. In case you're wondering, that reduces the odds of winning the grand prize from about 1 in 195 million to about 1 in 175 million. So plan your retirement accordingly...

The game will also include an increase in the lowest prize level (for those who match just the Powerball) from $3 to $4. (But when you think about it, that's getting $4 for a $2 bet instead of $3 for a $1 bet...)

The Power Play add-on feature will remain at $1 per play, but players will be able to win up to $2 million instead of $1 million. Also, instead of using a randomly selected multiplier that changes with every drawing, Power Play prizes will remain constant from drawing to drawing, letting players know exactly what they can win in advance.

Powerball launched in 15 states in 1992 with a guaranteed starting jackpot of $2 million.

As I've written before, the Lottery is not a great game if you're strictly about math. The state keeps 50 percent of the money paid in (it goes toward education), compared to horse tracks, dog tracks and jai-alai frontons keeping only 20 percent, South Florida slots 8 percent and video poker about 1 percent with optimum play.

But if you're about the dream, hey I understand. And, FYI, Florida has the strongest Powerball sales of any U.S. lottery, with $402 million generated during calendar year 2010. Since Powerball launched in Florida four Florida Lottery players have won a jackpot, and the total number of Florida winners leads the nation, lottery officials said. That includes 27 players who have won $1 million each for matching the white balls with Power Play, and 140 players who have won $200,000 for matching the white balls without Power Play.

To use your phone for the one time your numbers do hit, you can check SMS text alerts of the winning numbers by sending the keyword LOTTO to 23539.

And to keep informed on all South Florida gambling news, I'm your man. So bookmark this Action blog.

Categories: Lottery (125)

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About the author
Maybe you've made the right play, maybe you haven't. Your heart speeds up, your stomach rumbles.

That's why it's called gambling.

ACTION is a view of the numbers, the psychology and the flavor of gambling here in South Florida, through our lens.

We do have one sure bet. There's something here for you.

NICK SORTAL began playing 3-card "gut" and "Indian poker" on high school band trips, moved on to "night baseball" and "pass the trash" during a Dr. Pepper-infused midnight game in the 1980s at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and now play in a regular neighborhood Hold 'Em game in Plantation. I have been given the assignment of writing about the gambling life in South Florida casinos for the Sun-Sentinel...which means sitting around watching poker on TV now counts as research.
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