Powerball, the ubiquitous lottery game, finally arrived in California on Monday, and began to spread its enticing message of easy, instant fortune to residents of the Golden State. That message appears to have been a success: According to a press release distributed by California's lottery authority, more than 700,000 Californians purchased Powerball tickets in the 24 hours since they went on sale, generating approximately $3.1 million dollars in revenue for the Multi-State Lottery Association, the non-profit outfit which administers lotteries in 33 states. The Los Angeles Times broke down the exact odds of winning, and — surprise! — they're not too hot. Californians dreaming of Powerball's giant jackpot have a 1 in 175 million of making their dream come true.
Powerball's West Coast arrival comes two years after California officials initiated talks about bringing the game to the state (in 2005, state officials went with chief Powerball competitor Mega Millions) and five months after they finally signed an agreement, in November 2012, to begin selling the pink tickets at gas stations, bodegas, and grocery stores. The deal makes sense, on the whole: the lottery funnels money to state services, and California is still dealing with the effects of its enormous budget shortfall from just a year ago. And since Powerball is an interstate lottery, it's windfalls — and state contributions — are much larger. (Indeed, Powerball profits will fund 1.5 percent of California's education budget.) Still, enormous lotteries like Powerball continue to attract critics for the role they play in the lives of the poor, who buy tickets — the majority of which are money-losing — at a far greater rate than middle- and upper-income Americans.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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