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No, Powerball isn’t over in Idaho. But it could be soon

You might have seen a social media post, radio announcement or national news headline saying that the Idaho Powerball game is over in Idaho. But for now, that’s not true.

Yesterday, the Idaho Lottery issued a tweet:

“Today, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee held a bill in committee that would have allowed Idahoans to continue to play Powerball. Work continues with #IDLeg to determine an alternative path forward. At this time, Powerball remains an available game for sale in Idaho.”

The tweet didn’t link to additional information, and the Idaho Lottery website didn’t include information, either. We asked the lottery for additional information, and they pointed us to stories written by other news outlets, primarily the Associated Press.

The story says a legislative committee decided not to move forward with a bill that would allow a change to Idaho law to accomodate a change in Powerball. The game, played in multiple US states, hopes to expand to Australia and the UK. But Idaho law limits multi-state games to the US and Canada. So Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson hoped the legislature would let it tweak the law.

But several lawmakers, citing fears of the use of lottery funds in other countries, incorrect assumptions about odds and marketing expenses – decided to kill the bill. That could mean the end of Powerball by the end of August – and up to $14 million that goes to Idaho schools.

Lottery ramps up messaging

Though the spokesperson said they didn’t have any more information, the lottery put out an email to its VIP Club members, obtained by BoiseDev.

“Australiais scheduled to joinPowerball in August 2021. The United Kingdom is scheduled to follow in 2022,” the email notes. “Currently,Idaho law from 1988 onlyallows internationalplay with Canada.In order for Idaho to continue offering Powerball, the Idaho legislatureneeds to amend67-7408(4), Idaho Code.”

The note to the lottery’s member list reinforced that the legislature would need to change the law for Idaho to remain in the Powerball drawings, conducted by the Multi-State Lottery Association. Or, presumably, MUSL could decide not to add Australia and the UK.

“Powerball is the single most recognized brand for the Idaho Lottery and we remain one of the luckiest jurisdictions in the country for winning,” Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson said in a news release about a pair of winners from the most-recent drawings.

Idaho was one of the first states to join Powerball, and in 2014 the nationally-televised Powerball drawing with former Gov. Butch Otter was broadcast live from the Snake River Stampede.

If Idaho drops Powerball, it will be one of just six states not to offer the game, including gambling haven Nevada, Utah, Alabama, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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