Changes coming to Mega Millions lottery game
CONCORD — The odds that you’ll ever win a multi-million-dollar Mega Millions jackpot will be even slimmer when the number matrix and odds are changed beginning Oct. 22.
But there will be more fantasy-fueled dreams of hitting it big as $450 to more than $500 million jackpots become the norm.
The current odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 176 million. On Oct. 22 and beyond, it becomes 1 in 259 million. And if you are lucky enough to win it and take the annual payment option, it will take you four more years to collect the money because the annuity payout, currently 26 years, jumps to 30 years, the same as Powerball, according to Maura McCann, director of communications for the New Hampshire Lottery.
On the plus side, the overall odds of winning any prize are changing from 1 in 40, to 1 in 15, which should result in more winning lower-tier prizes.
McCann said Mega Millions still holds the record jackpot — $656 million in March 2012 — but the changes should result in more jackpots in the $450 to $500 million or more range, making it competitive with Powerball, which already made similar changes. The Mega Millions ticket will still cost $1, although for $1 more a customer can buy a Megaplier, that could quintuple a lower tier prize.
The matrix — the range of numbers that are played — also is changing. Players will choose 5 of 75 white ball numbers (currently 5 of 56) and 1 of 15 “Gold Ball” (Mega Ball) numbers, (currently 1 of 46).
The starting jackpot will increase from $12 million to $15 million, with roll overs of at least $5 million, and players matching the first five numbers, will receive $1 million, up from the current $250,000, which could climb up to $5 million with an added $1 Megaplier.
Match four numbers and a player will win $500, up from $150.
Other wins, however, are lowered: Match four plus the Mega Ball (MB) and win $5,000, not the current $10,000; match three and the MB, win $50, down from $150; match three numbers, get $5, down $2 from the current $7; match two and the MB, win $5, not the current $10; match one and the MB, get $2, down from the current $3; the MB only will get a player $1, not the current $2.
McCann said Powerball is more popular in the state than Mega Millions, but that may be because it has been available since 1995. Players have been able to buy Mega Millions tickets in New Hampshire only since 2010.
For fiscal year 2013, Powerball sales in New Hampshire totaled $32.8 million while Mega Millions sales were $14.8 million, according to McCann.