Lucky break: Idaho Powerball lives as global growth stalls


BOISE, Idaho — Powerball will continue in Idaho for at least another year despite an attempt by lawmakers to end the game in August over fears of foreign participation.

Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson told the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday that negotiations to add Australia in 2021 and Britain in 2022 to Powerball had broken down and won’t happen until at least next year.

That means Powerball in Idaho and its potential for huge jackpots will continue past what had been expected to be an August end date.

Lawmakers in March decided to withdraw Idaho from Powerball out of concern foreign leaders might use revenue generated from state coffers to back causes they oppose, like gun control.

Anderson had appeared before the same committee in March requesting Idaho law be expanded beyond only allowing lotteries with players in the U.S. and Canada.

The committee killed the bill in a 10-4 vote, knowing that would mean the state’s last Powerball drawing would be in August. But on Wednesday, Anderson told lawmakers that he learned just recently that negotiations between Australia and the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, had broken down until at least next year.

That means a change in Idaho law isn’t needed for the state to continue participating in Powerball this year.

“Powerball will remain available for Idahoans and others to participate in after Aug. 23,” Anderson told the committee. “That doesn’t mean that we won’t be back next year to try to address this because it’s my understanding that this (adding Australia and Britain) is inevitable. It’s just not happening in 2021.”

Some Idaho lawmakers, besides citing concerns about how foreign governments might spend Powerball money, also said in March that they feared that the odds of an Idaho resident winning would be reduced with more players.

But the odds remain the same no matter how many players take part because the game is based on the chances of particular numbers being selected. If there are multiple winners, jackpots are split.

Idaho was one of the first states to join Powerball in the 1990s. The lottery has since grown to include 45 states, two U.S. territories and Washington, D.C.

Idaho lottery officials have said the game generates about $28 million in sales annually in the state, with schools receiving about $14 million per year.

Idaho’s biggest Powerball winner was a resident of the small southwestern city of Star, who won $220 million in 2005.

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