The Potential Reason Behind Why The Powerball Reached Its Current $1.5 Billion Jackpot

While the Powerball prize has grown to $1.5 billion dollars, experts say that the lottery in general is akin to gambling its predatory nature is why the prize has grown to such a huge number.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Almost three months after Powerball paid out its $200 million cash prize to a winner in Pennsylvania, its jackpot has increased to an estimated $1.5 billion, with a cash value of $745.9 million. The total is just short of the lottery’s record and the third-largest jackpot in American history.

The previous record was set at $1.586 billion, which was won by three ticket holders in 2016. But there is a dark side to these large cash prizes which experts call predatory gambling.

Predatory gambling is when corporate interests like Powerball cheat and exploit citizens. It ultimately forces taxpayers who don’t gamble to foot the bill for the long-term public budget problems that gambling causes. It’s also been described as a form of consumer financial fraud like false advertising which results in life-changing financial losses for millions of citizens, according to the Stop Predatory Gambling website.

But despite the risks, lottery enthusiasts across the country continue to spend their hard-earned cash in hopes of winning the Powerball jackpot. “State lotteries are the most neglected example of systemic racism in the United States,” National Director for Stop Predatory Gambling Les Bernal told NPR. He added that through marketing and advertising, state-run lotteries have no regulation to their predatory practices that affect low-income communities which are primarily people of color.

Moreover, some people develop unhealthy relationships with the lottery which turns into a gambling disorder. Speaking about the Powerball winnings, Timothy Fong, Co-director of the Gambling Studies Program at the University of California, said, “There’s a tremendous amount of advertising and marketing that’s pro-lottery. Even on my Twitter feeds, I see it a lot. And the very positive messaging that comes with it.”

Over the next eight years, Americans are on course to lose more than $1 trillion of their wealth to government-sanctioned gambling. And at least half will be lost to state lotteries. Still, enormous jackpots for lottery games like Powerball and Mega Millions have become the norm as lottery officials adjust game rules and ticket prices, The Associated Press reports.

The most recent change was Powerball’s additional drawing day which was created to build larger prizes and boost sales. But as the game implements new changes and more weekly drawings, low-income communities continue to become victims of predatory gambling. A recent study shows that Americans spent almost $105 billion on lottery tickets in 2021, with the average adult spending about $320 on tickets each year.

Meanwhile, despite no one winning the Powerball jackpot on October 31st, more than 5.4 million tickets won cash prizes totaling $59.5 million in the draw. But only a select few were big winners. 10 tickets matched all five white balls to win a $1 million prize. Another three tickets matched all five white balls and increased the $1 million prize to $2 million by including the Power Play option for an additional $1 per play.

There were also 134 tickets sold nationwide that won a $50,000 prize and 23 tickets that won a $150,000 prize. Following the November 3rd drawing, the Powerball jackpot has grown to be the game’s largest prize in more than six years. The jackpot was last hit on August 3rd. Since then, there have been 38 consecutive draws without a grand prize winner.