Mega Millions Reportedly Mulling Substantial Ticket Price Increase

It’s only a rumor for now, but reports are swirling that Mega Millions is weighing a substantial price increase for a basic play.

Mega Millions tickets purchased in Ohio in July 2022 show each play costing $2. A new report suggests Mega Millions officials are considering raising the basic price to play to $5. (Image: Cincinnati Enquirer)

Brett Smiley of reports that sources close to the discussion believe the Mega Millions Consortium, which operates the interstate lottery game on behalf of its 47 participating member jurisdictions, is ready to jack up the price of a ticket from $2 to $5. Smiley’s sources say the odds appear likely for a ticket cost increase.

My understanding is that they’re stuck on $5,” one of Smiley’s sources said. “I think it’s about as close to final as it can be.”

Smiley’s informants say there is not currently a discussion about additionally raising the cost of the $1 add-on Megaplier, which allows non-jackpot winning tickets to double, triple, quadruple, or quintuple their prize.  

Mega Millions last raised the price of a ticket from $1 to its current $2 cost in 2017. The price jump coincided with the consortium overhauling the gameplay format to make it more difficult for players to win the jackpot.

Format Changes

The 2017 Mega Millions overhaul involved increasing the number of gold Mega Balls from 15 to 25 while reducing the number of white balls from 75 to 70. The adjustment lengthened the odds of a ticket matching the six drawn numbers to claim the jackpot from roughly one in 258.9 million to one in 302.5 million.

Mega Millions officials voted in favor of the change after Powerball underwent a similar revamp two years earlier.

Powerball, which is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association, in 2015 increased the number of white balls by 10 to 69 while reducing the number of red Powerballs by nine. That change lengthened the game’s jackpot odds from one in 175.22 million to one in 292.2 million.

The Mega Millions and Powerball format changes resulted in fewer jackpots being hit, which in turn delivered the popular interstate lottery games with headline-making jackpots. The 10 largest lottery jackpots in United States history, which have all come from Mega Millions and Powerball, have all been won since 2016.

Dubbed “lottery hysteria” by lottery officials, the seemingly nonstop barrage of advertised generational-changing jackpots has been a major win for the lottery organizations and their participating jurisdictions. That in turn has delivered record financial benefits for the many causes state lotteries benefit such as property tax relief, education, and seniors programs.

Fiver Too Much?

Raising the basic price of Mega Millions ticket by 150% is certainly not without risk. Many lottery hopefuls aren’t exactly flush with cash, the adage that the lottery is a tax on the poor is backed by statistical data.

Researchers at the University of Maryland and Boston University in 2022 concluded that lotteries primarily rely on low-income players and people of color, specifically Blacks and Hispanics. The report, “Mega Billions: The Great Lottery Wealth Transfer,” summarized that lotteries often take critical money out of socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.  

For many players, an extra three bucks for a hope and a dream might be tough to swallow. For those who continue to play, the wealth transfer or poor tax will perhaps continue at only a more rapid pace.

The greatest beneficiary of such a change could be Powerball. Along with having better jackpot odds, the game would be $3 cheaper to play.

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