Idaho Lawmakers End Powerball Lottery Offering Because of Upcoming Foreign Participation

  • The Idaho Lottery has offered Powerball for over 30 years
  • Powerball will soon expand into Australia and Britain
  • Because of foreign additions, state lawmakers voted against a bill to continue the game
  • The state will lose around $28m annually without Powerball
Powerball play slips
Powerball is coming to an end in Idaho because of a fear by state lawmakers about foreign countries being added to the player pool. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Decades-long run ends

Lawmakers in Idaho decided this week to do away with the Powerball lottery. The state has offered the gambling option for over 30 years, but voted against continuing to provide the service because of upcoming foreign participation.

Powerball is expanding to Australia this year and Britain in 2022

Idaho was one of the first US states to offer Powerball, starting in the 1990s. Today, a total of 45 states, along with the District of Columbia and two US territories, offer the game. Powerball is expanding to Australia this year and Britain in 2022, which is what led to the change in Idaho.

Lawmakers fear other countries’ inclusion

Currently, Idaho gambling law only allows the state to offer lottery games played by people located in the United States and Canada. The recent legislation up for consideration would have changed this law so that the Powerball could continue once the foreign countries started offering services.

The mostly Republican state legislature opposed the idea of offering a lottery game that is available internationally. The bill died after a 10-4 vote by the House State Affairs Committee.

Representative Heather Scott said she was worried that Australia might use revenues from the game to back causes that she is against. She feels other countries would use funds in ways that she does not agree with, such as anti-gun efforts.

Some lawmakers felt that the Powerball would add even more countries to its roster of operators. Representative Chris Mathias stated he feared that the Multi-State Lottery Association, Powerball’s operator, could be lobbied by countries with which the US is not friendly.

Major financial loss

The Idaho Lottery generates around $28m from the Powerball each year. Schools will take a big hit with the loss of the lottery game, as they receive approximately half of that.

Advertising commitments are going to be an issue and an additional cost to the state. The state spends around $3m a year on Powerball advertising. Now, officials will have to undo marketing commitments, including billboards and point-of-sale materials.

Powerball will continue to be available in Idaho until August 23.

Supporting the lottery

While Idaho is cutting its lottery options, other states are trying to enhance theirs. In Hawaii, Senate Bill 816 is on the table, aiming to establish a lottery in the Aloha State. If approved, the lottery could start as soon as next year.

The Hawaiian lottery would use funds to benefit public education needs and university students. The bill would set up a task force to create and sustain the lottery.

In New York, the Gaming Commission approved a law allowing instant-win lottery tickets to be delivered to homes back in January. Players can use a mobile app to order scratch-off tickets, making lottery gaming more accessible.

The lottery must deliver scratch-off tickets to the home of the player after the order is submitted. Players must collect winnings from tickets at a retail location.