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Powerball coming to Bay State next year

By Emma Rose Johnson
Globe Correspondent / October 11, 2009

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Massachusetts residents will be able to buy Powerball tickets in state next year, as a result of a new agreement allowing the multistate lottery game to be offered here.

State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, who chairs the State Lottery Commission, announced an agreement in principle yesterday. The agreement is part of a larger pact that will allow 45 states to offer both Powerball and Mega Millions, which Massachusetts already has. Cahill said the ability to sell Powerball tickets will add significant revenue to the state’s coffers.

“The ability to sell both games in Massachusetts will enable us to raise millions more in needed revenue for our 351 cities and towns,’’ Cahill said in a statement.

Once fully operational, the game is expected to generate $25 million to $40 million for Massachusetts communities.

Because Powerball and Mega Millions drawings are held on different days, there will be four big potential selling days for the lottery during the week instead of two.

“A lot depends on the jackpots, but having four selling days will help small businesses and keep people playing in Massachusetts,’’ Cahill said in an interview.

Cahill had been rebuffed by the Multi-State Lottery Association, the consortium that operates Powerball, earlier in the year. Cahill said he wasn’t sure why the association reconsidered, but suspects declining revenue across the country was a factor in the decision.

“It took a lot of negotiations and a lot of work over the past four to five months,’’ Cahill said. “I think there was a lot of concern that we’d be taking business from other states. But they’ve been enlightened to the fact that this can actually be a win-win situation for everyone.’’

Details of the agreement still need to be worked out, but the game should be operational within the first six months of next year.

Cahill, an independent who is running for governor against incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick and Republican Charles D. Baker, said he doesn’t believe the agreement will seriously affect his campaign.

“I don’t think it’ll have any real or direct impact,’’ he said. “But it can’t hurt. We didn’t give up after being told no, and that’s certainly a good thing.’’

Currently, 30 states - including Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire - offer the Powerball game along with Washington, D.C., and the US Virgin Islands. Twelve states offer Mega Millions, lottery officials said. Powerball states sold $2.1 billion in tickets last fiscal year, while Mega Millions states sold more than $2.5 billion.