Boise, Idaho – Worried about foreign participation in the Powerball lottery, Idaho lawmakers scrapped a law on Wednesday that would allow big jackpot games to continue in the state after more than 30 years.
The move comes after Idaho Lottery officials are seeking changes in state law as Powerball expands to include Australia in 2021 and the UK in 2022.But current Idaho law only allows lotteries in the state to be played by people in the US and Canada.
Idaho was one of the first states to join Powerball in the 1990s. The lottery has grown to cover 45 states, two US territories, and Washington, DC. The Multi-Country Lottery Association runs the game.
Idaho’s legislature is dominated by Republicans, but objections to change have also emerged from Democrats. The killing of the bill by a 10-4 vote by the House’s State Affairs Committee means the state’s final Powerball withdrawal will be in August.
Republican Heather Scott worries that when Australia joins Powerball, state officials might use the revenue generated for government coffers to support the reasons she fights.
Scott expressed concern there could be “in Australia the anti-firearms, which they think is good and we think is not good.”
Democrat Chris Mathias said Powerball in Idaho is good for business and that the state is taking millions on public education, but he worries that more states might be added to Powerball’s turnout list.
“My concern is the delegation of authority, and basically handing over our sovereignty to the Multi-State Lottery Association,” he said. “I think we should be concerned that they can be persuaded, they can be lobbied by countries that are not very friendly to us.”
Mathias wants the bill to be amended to reflect those concerns, and votes with other Democrats and two Republicans not to kill the bill.
Idaho lottery officials say the game generates about $ 28 million in sales annually in the state, with schools receiving about $ 14 million annually.
The money generated from selling Powerball tickets is kept in the trust until there is a winner. The addition of two new countries and more players is expected to increase the size of the jackpot.
“This is a big jackpot game, so players want to have a big jackpot,” Jeff Anderson, director of the Idaho Lottery, told lawmakers. “One way to do that is by having more players in the game.”
Idaho’s biggest Powerball winners are residents of the small town of Star in the southwest, who won $ 220 million in 2005.
Some Idaho lawmakers said they feared that the Idaho population’s chances of winning would diminish with more players.
But the odds remain the same no matter how many players take part as odds are not based on the number of players, but the odds of a particular number chosen. If there are multiple winners, the jackpot will be divided.
Anderson tried to persuade lawmakers to make changes in state law by convincing them that a country like China – with a legal system different from that of the US, Australia and the UK – would never be allowed to join.
Republican Bruce Skaug says he’s in trouble about $ 3 million annually spent on advertising to try to get people to play Powerball. He proposed a motion that killed the law.
“What we got is 32 years of Idaho people being able to voluntarily participate in the lottery game of their choice,” Anderson said after the vote. “Thirty-two years is fine, not now. This is very disturbing.”
Anderson said Powerball will end up in Idaho on Aug. 23 because of the vote.
He warned that in addition to the money that would be lost to Idaho schools, the state would face “untold amounts in spending to give up all the advertising commitments we have for billboards and point of sale materials and so on. It would be very expensive for that. people in Idaho. “
Officials at the Multi-State Lottery Association declined to comment in an email on Idaho Powerball’s decision.