Powerball Lottery comes to California

The long wait is officially over. California residents can now buy Powerball lottery tickets from the nearest convenience store, rather than having to cross state lines to play.

Monday was the first day of sales in California, and people were waiting from 5:30am in long lines that snaked around neighborhood convenience stores for their chance to purchase. One convenience store manager in L.A. said he’d sold over 8,000 tickets by noon.

Powerball is one of the most popular lotteries to play, since the jackpot is usually larger than regular jackpots. Before the state started selling their own tickets, some California residents drove to Oregon or even to the Arizona border to play last year when the jackpot reached $587.5 million, according to the L.A. Times.

California already offers many lottery games, including SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions. But state officials are betting that Powerball’s starting jackpot of 40 million will attract many more players, nearly three times as large as Mega Millions. They will be putting 96 cents of every dollar spent on Powerball towards California schools. And so far, California residents seem excited. The first day brought in over $3 million dollars in ticket sales.

Powerball tickets are offered at $2 each, a bit pricey compared to other lotteries which typically run about $1 per ticket, but this is because the jackpots tend to be larger. The rules are pretty straightforward. Players can choose five numbers from 1 to 59 and one red Powerball number from 1 to 35. They can make their own number choices or use a quick-pick option. (Fun fact: computer generated numbers have the most wins.)

How it works: if you pick five winning numbers (in any order) but not the winning red Powerball, then you win $1 million cash prize. If you match the Red Powerball in addition to matching the five other numbers, you win the jackpot. There are nine total ways to win with various matching sequences. The overall odds of winning any prize in the game are one in 32.

Advertising for the new game has been everywhere, including launch parties at popular malls like The Grove in Los Angeles. TV commercials have run playing the song “California Dreaming,” and asking viewers to “believe in something bigger.”

The state lottery says that Powerball tickets will close at 7pm Pacific time every Wednesday and Saturday, with subsequent drawings for winners at 7:59pm. California is the 43rd state to join the game.