Originally created 08/31/96

Georgia Drops Powerball in Favor of The Big Game

ATLANTA (AP) - The Big Game begins in Georgia as Powerball ends.

Georgia joins five other states in selling tickets for the new multistate lottery game Saturday, the same day of its final Powerball drawing.

"It's a big day for us," Georgia Lottery Corp. President Rebecca Paul said Friday.

Mrs. Paul announced last month that Georgia would drop out of the 22-state Powerball drawing and join the Big Game in hopes of boosting sales. Powerball sales totaled more than $200 million in Georgia last year, and Mrs. Paul said the Big Game is expected to surpass that figure. She did not have an estimate.

Georgia had been the biggest state in Powerball. In the Big Game, it will be closer in population to the other states - Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia.

The Big Game vs. Powerball:

States: The Big Game operates in six states - Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia. Powerball operates in 22, which will drop to 21 after Georgia exits Saturday.

Odds: Overall odds of winning a prize are about one in 22 for the Big Game, one in 35 for Powerball. Odds of winning the jackpot are about one in 53 million for the Big Game, one in 54 million for Powerball.

How to play: In the Big Game, players choose five numbers from a field of 50 and a "big money ball" from a field of 25. Powerball players choose five numbers from a field of 45 and a "powerball" from a field of 45.

Prizes: Jackpots vary. The prize for picking the first five numbers right is $150,000 in the Big Game and $100,000 in Powerball.

Drawings: Fridays at 11 p.m. for the Big Game, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11 p.m. for Powerball.

Source: Georgia Lottery Corp.

The Big Game also has one weekly drawing, on Friday nights, compared with two for Powerball, and that could translate into heftier jackpots for Georgia players. "We think it will let the jackpot grow at a faster pace," Mrs. Paul said.

By dropping Powerball, with its Wednesday and Saturday drawings, lottery officials hope to boost sales for Lotto Georgia's Saturday drawings, which have suffered because of competition from Powerball.

"Everybody is just waiting for it to get started," said Christy Sanders, a cashier at Warehouse Package Store in Albany. "They feel like more people in our area are going to have an opportunity to win.

"With Powerball, it would get bigger and bigger and then there'd be a winner from Indiana. With the Big Game, there's fewer states and the odds are better."

The Big Game closely resembles Powerball. Players choose five numbers from a field of 50 and a "big money ball" from a field of 25. Players have to match all six numbers to win the jackpot. The smallest possible prize, for matching one number, is $1.

In Powerball, players choose five numbers from a field of 45 and a "powerball" from a field of 45.

Gail Howard, who tracks state and multistate lotteries for Lottery Advantage magazine, believes the Big Game's organizers made a psychological error by setting the size of the first field at 50 instead of 45 or even 49.

"The perceived (odds in) a game where you have to pick from 50 numbers are much higher than from 45," even though the actual odds are very close, she said. "I think that 50 is going to chase away a lot of players."

Ms. Sanders won't let it keep her from playing, however.

"I hope I'll be the first winner," she said. "I could sure use it."


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