$Billion is the new $Million for Lotteries

In light of the recent Mega Millions record jackpot of $1.537 Billion (won by a single ticket purchased in South Carolina), Ipsos examined the behavior of ticket buyers during this Billion dollar draw and compared it to the only other time an American lottery prize hit the Billion-dollar mark (2016 Powerball $1.586 Billion jackpot). Scott Morasch, Vice President, Lottery & Gaming, Ipsos, says what we uncovered about lottery players during these times may surprise you.
Billions are becoming the new Millions

30% of people who bought tickets for the recent Mega Millions jackpot say they didn’t start playing until the jackpot reached at least $1 Billion. And, about half of these say they didn’t buy until the jackpot reached its peak of $1.6B (the highest advertised amount).

Morasch says it reflects a shift we are seeing in lottery players, in that it is taking a Billion-dollar jackpot to have them act. “Our research shows 15 years ago; a $100 Million jackpot was the magic number which got people excited enough to go out and buy tickets. $100 Million to a Billion is a high standard, but that’s where we are.”

Billion Dollar Interests

Of those who bought Mega Millions tickets for this jackpot, Ipsos asked if they’d ever bought Mega Millions tickets before this jackpot started in July.

  •     37% said they hadn’t bought a Mega Millions ticket during the past year, before this jackpot. And, just under half of this number had never bought a Mega Millions ticket before.
  •     “Jackpot Chasers” are not regular lottery players, instead they wait until a big event gets their attention; and the jackpot amount that triggers a big event is continuously on the rise.
  •     Not surprisingly, 30% of these people say they’ll only buy Mega Millions when the jackpot gets high enough again. And, 40% say they won’t buy it again – perhaps they doubt the jackpot will ever reach that amount again, or they are discouraged by not winning.

Brand over Billions

  •     49% of Americans said they bought Mega Millions tickets this time. However, in 2015, 60% of Americans said they bought Powerball tickets during its $1.6 Billion jackpot run.
  •     On average, people reported spending approximately $40 per person ($41.50) during the Mega Millions jackpot. This was less than players reported spending on the 2015/2016 Powerball jackpot. Then, the reported average was around $65 each ($66.00).

Billion Dollar Business

  • Despite the hype and frenzy that surrounds billion-dollar jackpots, this is not the ideal situation from the lottery’s perspective explains Morasch.

“They need people to buy tickets when the jackpots are lower, because that weekly revenue is what sustains the business. Conversely, if the jackpot was hit each week at its base level, the lotteries would actually lose money. Lotteries are walking a fine line of keeping players’ interest and proceeds high. If we see more and more billion-dollar jackpots, interest will further decline because the novelty will fade. To combat this, lotteries may raise ticket prices or tinker with the games to make them even harder to win.”
About the Study

These are some of the findings from two separate Ipsos polls conducted January 14-15, 2016 and October 24-25, 2018. Both surveys sampled adults 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii using an online survey in English. The 2016 survey polled 1,006 respondents and the 2018 survey polled 1,005. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the polls have a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the sample population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.


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