West Virginia Lottery players will have a chance to play another multi-state lottery game that generates huge jackpots, when lottery outlets across the state begin selling MegaMillions tickets on Jan. 31, according to Lottery Director John Musgrave.

The first drawing will be held Feb. 2.

The West Virginia Lottery will continue to sell tickets for the popular Powerball game, which is played in 31 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Musgrave said most Powerball members have agreed to carry the additional jackpot-driven game. MegaMillions is currently played in 12 states.

“We expect our players, as well as the State to benefit from the addition of this game,” said Musgrave. “ Like Powerball, all money from MegaMillions will stay in West Virginia . . . the participating states will contribute to the jackpot fund, allowing it to grow quickly and recover faster after each win.”

MegaMillions drawings are held Tuesday and Friday nights in Atlanta at 11 p.m. Powerball drawings will continue to be held Wednesday and Saturday nights.

Musgrave said that MegaMilions winning numbers will be carried on West Virginia’s network of television stations currently airing the nightly drawing and Powerball results. “Additionally, they will be available on the Lottery’s web site, our telephone hotline, and at lottery retailers statewide.”
MegaMillions holds the record for the largest annuity-based prize ever awarded — $390 million in March 2007. The largest Powerball jackpot was $365 million, hit in February 2006. On Dec. 25, 2002, a ticket purchased in West Virginia won nearly $315 million; at the time, it was a world record.

Musgrave said players are expected to gravitate to whichever of the two multi-state games’ jackpots is the highest during any given week. Playing MegaMillions will be similar to Powerball. MegaMillions tickets cost $1; players try to match five white balls drawn from a set of 59 numbers and one yellow “Megaball®” from 46 numbers. Powerball involves drawing five of 59 white balls and one of 39 red balls, or the Powerball.

The top second-tier prize, for matching all five white balls is $250,000 in MegaMillions and $200,000 in Powerball. The MegaMillions jackpot starts at $15 million, while the Powerball jackpot starts at $20 million.

The odds of matching the six MegaMillions balls are one in more than 175 million; the odds of matching all six numbers in Powerball is one in about 195 million.
Megamillions also has an add-on “Megaplier” feature that acts as a prize multiplier, similar to Powerball.

The 12 current MegaMillions states are: California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington state. Musgrave said that Ohio, Michigan and Illinois all are expected to start Powerball sales either on, or soon after, Jan. 31.

Once the cross-selling agreements go into effect at the end of the month, Musgrave said at least 35 of the 45 jurisdictions previously selling one game or the other intend to make both games available. Even more states’ lotteries are expected to join in the cross-selling during 2010, he said.

West Virginia was in the first flagship of states offering Lotto America in 1988. The game was restructured and called Powerball in 1992. MegaMillions started as The Big Game in 1996 and became MegaMillions in 2002.

In addition to MegaMillions and Powerball, Musgrave said the West Virginia Lottery will continue to offer players Hot Lotto, a multistate game introduced in 2002. Sold by nine lotteries, Hot Lotto offers a jackpot that is never less than a guaranteed $1 million. Played like Powerball, the odds of winning Hot Lotto’s jackpot are one in 10.9 million.

The West Virginia Lottery has earned more than $5.4 billion for the State since its startup in 1986.