DES MOINES — The nation's two biggest lottery games are talking about cross-selling tickets in U.S. lottery jurisdictions with the potential for a national lottery, the head of a lottery association said Tuesday.
Powerball is played in 31 states, including Kansas, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mega Millions is played in 12 states. The consortium behind Mega Millions and the Urbandale, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, have agreed in principle to cross-sell tickets for both games beginning next year, officials said.
"It's a way to increase sales and reach out to more players," said Tom Shaheen, the president of the lottery association's board of directors and executive director of the North Carolina Education Lottery.
The idea surfaced last year after officials noticed that when the jackpots grew, players who live in states offering Powerball would cross state lines to buy tickets in another state selling Mega Millions and visa versa, Shaheen said.
Cross-selling would give players the chance to buy whatever ticket they want in their home state, said Andi Brancato, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Lottery, which is a member of Mega Millions.
"Why don't we see if we can sell both games in all states and keep those people in their respective states and give those people who don't live on borders the opportunity to play the other large jackpot game," Shaheen said.
Shaheen said a national lottery is also in the works that would be in addition to Powerball and Mega Millions.
"If we develop a national game, it will probably be at a different price point. It might be $2. It might be $5. It will be a single game, but we haven't worked out all the details of that yet. The other two games, I believe, would remain intact," he said.
Cross-selling could begin in early 2010, and the organizations could begin a national lottery by next fall, said Multi-State Lottery Association executive director Chuck Strutt. The two groups will meet in the next few weeks to start working on the details, he said.
Shaheen said each state will have to decide if it wants to participate in cross-selling or join a national lottery.
"It's totally an option for every state. They can opt out of it if they'd like to. We don't need any particular requirements as far as how many to do it," he said.
Some states may realize only a 3 or 4 percent increase, but others could get as high as 17 or 20 percent if they agreed to cross-sell, Shaheen said.
"It depends on what states are surrounding them and the population of what those states are. A state with a larger population will see a higher increase because they have more players," he said.
Mega Millions holds the record for the largest U.S. lottery jackpot — $390 million on March 6, 2007. The largest Powerball jackpot was $365 million on Feb. 18, 2006.