Pricey picks: Powerball tickets doubling to $2

DES MOINES, Iowa — Powerball lottery organizers are betting that bigger jackpots will entice more people to play, but gamblers are going to have to dig deeper into their wallets to try their luck.

Tickets for the multistate game are doubling in price to $2 beginning Jan 15. While the odds of winning one of the game’s giant jackpots also are improving, those in charge of the lottery are gambling that people are willing to pay more for the hope of becoming a millionaire in a down economy.

“With the price of everything else going up, there’s not much you can get for a dollar anymore,” said 28-year-old Ryan Raker, of Des Moines, Iowa, who buys a ticket once a month. He says he’ll probably play less frequently now.

Lotteries have long sold regular people on the hope of becoming rich quick by simply picking a lucky combination of numbers. Some play loved ones’ birthdays or anniversaries in the hope that fate may point them in the direction of a jackpot. Selling that hope is easy; less so is predicting consumers’ sensitivity to price changes.

Powerball’s move follows the model of scratch ticket games, which once were all $1 but now are offered at higher prices with the chance for bigger prizes.

The evolution of scratch tickets and the creation of families of games that offer tickets at different prices has proven successful across the country, said Rebecca Hargrove, president of the Tennessee Lottery. Scratch games like Win for Life in Illinois, Jumbo Bucks in Tennessee and the Crosswords game in Iowa have all been successful, Hargrove said.

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