Odds are, you won't like this Powerball story

Joseph Spector

ALBANY, N.Y. — Here's the bad news: It will soon be more difficult to win Powerball.

And the good news? You'll have a better chance of winning a smaller prize.

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The 36 states that participate in the multi-state lottery are making it harder to win the top prize, but increasing the odds of winning any money.

So the odds of winning the jackpot — which was a record $590.5 million in 2013 — will increase to 1 in 292,201,338, up from 1 in 175,223,510.

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The odds of winning $4? That will improve from 1 in 111 to 1 in 92. The new rules will take effect for the Oct. 7 drawing.

"The rules change is intended to increase the odds of winning any prize, while making it more difficult to win the jackpot prize," the state Gaming Commission said in a memo to board members.

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At its board meeting Monday, the state Gaming Commission approved the changes, saying the modifications will make the game more sustainable. So the percentage of money that goes to the top prize will drop from 68% to 64%, while the percentage going to smaller prizes will increase.

Robert Williams, executive director of the state Gaming Commission, said the new odds are scheduled to launch nationwide on Oct. 4 for the Oct. 7 Powerball drawing.

"The proposed rule is intended to increase the odds of winning any prize while decreasing the odds to win the jackpot," Williams said.

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The move is aimed at boosting jackpots as sales have slumped since 2013, the last huge payout. Overall, the chances of winning a prize will improve from from about 1 in 32 to 1 in 25.

"Without these rules changes, the (Lottery) Division would need to remove the Powerball game from its portfolio of offerings and aid to education would be negatively affected," the Gaming Commission memo said.

In Powerball, players select five numbers from one set and one number from a second set. A ticket costs $2.

The rules change will increase first set of numbers from from 59 to 69, while decreasing the size of the second set of numbers from 35 to 26. The set prize amount for the third-level prize will increase from $10,000 to $50,000.

Powerball sales declined nationally by 19% last year because there was no huge jackpot. The same was true for the drop in Mega Millions sales, the other multi-state lottery, New York officials said.

In New York last year, Powerball sales plummeted 44%, a decline of $217 million.

In February, the state Gaming Commission said the fluctuations in the multi-state games have prompted the state to focus on games with more consistent jackpots.

New York's lottery is "focused on developing and promoting non-jackpot driven games to reduce future dependence on more mature jackpot games and multi-state jackpot games," the lottery said.

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Last year, the state launched a Cash 4 Life draw game, which generated more than $100 million in sales in its first six months.

But the state has had some busts over the past year: It ended a Sweet Millions game because of poor sales and temporarily dropped the Monopoly Millionaires' Club game.