The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) coordinates several multi-jurisdictional lottery games in the United States, including Powerball and Mega Millions. MUSL is owned and operated by 36 state lottery systems and the District of Columbia. The member lotteries pool their resources to offer games with large jackpots that generate significant excitement and ticket sales across multiple states. While MUSL administers the games, the member lotteries retain all profits from ticket sales in their respective jurisdictions. So in that sense, no single entity owns the Multi-State lottery – it is a collaborative effort among dozens of state lotteries for their mutual benefit.
History of US Lotteries and MUSL
Lotteries have a long history in the United States, dating back to colonial times when they were used to help fund various public works projects. Early lotteries were straightforward draws operated by individual colonies and states. Over time, as interest in lotteries waned, many states banned or limited lottery activities. By the mid-20th century, only New Hampshire and Puerto Rico still operated public lotteries.
Interest in lotteries was renewed in the 1960s and 70s as states looked for new revenue sources. New Hampshire launched the first modern state-run lottery in 1964. New York followed in 1967, New Jersey in 1970, and several other states over the next decade. Many early lotteries were relatively small in scale, offering simple numerical and pick-3/pick-4 type games. The games were administered independently by each state with no coordination or pooling of jackpots between states.
In 1985, the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) was formed to facilitate the coordination of multi-jurisdictional lottery games. The inaugural members were the lotteries of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. MUSL’s first game was Lotto America, which began in 1988. While initially successful, Lotto America sales slowed in the 1990s, prompting MUSL to introduce a new large jackpot game.
Introduction of Powerball
In 1992, MUSL launched Powerball, which would become the first truly national lottery game in the United States. The game uses two drums – one with white balls and another with red “Powerballs.” Players select five numbers from the white balls (1-69) and one Powerball number (1-26). To win the jackpot, a player must match all six numbers.
The starting Powerball jackpot was $2 million – significantly higher than other lotteries at the time. Even more enticing, the game allowed for rollover jackpots if there was no 6-number winner. The jackpot would continue rising in subsequent draws until someone finally matched all the numbers. This created huge potential prizes that captured widespread public attention.
In the early 2000s, Powerball went through a major expansion, doubling the cost of a ticket to $1 and adding more numbers. This allowed the odds of winning the jackpot to increase substantially while boosting overall revenues. Numerous other lotteries joined MUSL to offer Powerball in their jurisdictions. By 2010, Powerball was available in 32 states plus Washington DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Some of the largest Powerball jackpots have included:
|January 13, 2016
|March 27, 2019
|January 20, 2021
The introduction and growth of Powerball paved the way for even larger multi-state lottery games down the line.
Mega Millions Joins MUSL
In 1996, a group of states not participating in Powerball launched a competing large jackpot game called The Big Game. It was renamed Mega Millions in 2002. For over a decade, Powerball and Mega Millions operated as separate national games.
In 2009, an agreement was reached to allow states to offer both Powerball and Mega Millions. In 2010, Mega Millions joined the Multi-State Lottery Association. This cross-selling expansion helped fuel larger jackpots and increased sales for both games. It also avoided a scenario where some states had Powerball while others Mega Millions, forcing residents to cross state lines if they wanted to play a particular game.
The current Mega Millions format involves selecting five numbers from 1-70 and one Mega Ball number from 1-25. To win the jackpot, a player must match all six numbers. Minimum starting jackpots are $40 million and rollovers are common. Notable Mega Millions jackpots have included:
|October 23, 2018
|January 22, 2021
|March 30, 2012
The Mega Millions and Powerball games have accounted for the largest lottery jackpots in U.S. history. Their arrival in the digital age has allowed jackpots to roll to unprecedented levels on a regular basis.
How MUSL Operates and Functions
The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) is run by a board of directors comprised of the lottery directors from each member state or district. There is also a professional staff headquartered in Urbandale, Iowa that handles the day-to-day operations.
MUSL does not actually operate any lottery games itself. Rather, its role is to facilitate coordination between member lotteries. Specific responsibilities include:
– Developing game design and logistics
– Providing orderly management of finance
– Promoting and protecting the common interests of members
– Maximizing revenues for public benefit
For games like Powerball and Mega Millions, MUSL will manage the prize pools and set the jackpot amounts. It also conducts the official drawings using ball machines and lottery balls. However, all actual ticket sales are handled independently by the individual lottery jurisdictions. Lottery profits remain in the jurisdiction where a ticket was sold.
MUSL has established a rigorous security process for drawings and prize validation. Drawings are observed by independent auditors and external witnesses. Winning tickets must be validated through a detailed verification process before any prize is awarded. MUSL also maintains extensive IT security protocols and contingencies to ensure system integrity and data protection.
Strict operational standards governed by MUSL ensure that Powerball, Mega Millions, and other shared games are administered in a fair, consistent, and transparent manner across all participating lotteries. This provides essential consumer confidence in the games.
Current MUSL Membership
As of 2023, the Multi-State Lottery Association includes 36 state lottery members plus the District of Columbia. The member jurisdictions are:
|District of Columbia
|US Virgin Islands
These member lotteries all pay an annual participation fee to MUSL based on their proportional share of total MUSL game ticket sales.
Key Benefits of the MUSL Multi-State Model
The MUSL multi-jurisdictional model offers important benefits both for lottery members and players:
– **Larger jackpots** – By combining sales and prize pools across states, jackpots can grow larger, faster. This creates huge jackpot excitement.
– **More proceeds for good causes** – Added ticket sales generate more funding for each member lottery to support beneficiaries in their state.
– **Economies of scale** – Central administration and game management is efficient. Members share costs.
– **Fairness and integrity** – Rigorous standards and security provide transparency and build public trust.
– **Innovation** – Members can leverage shared expertise to enhance games and operations.
– **Convenience for players** – Fans can easily find and play major games like Powerball and Mega Millions while traveling across state lines.
The cooperative structure has succeeded in creating hugely popular games that benefit member lotteries while providing fun and entertainment for millions of consumers across the country.
How Lottery Profits Are Used
While MUSL helps administer the games, lottery profits remain with the individual member jurisdictions to support local priorities. Most lotteries contribute proceeds to their state treasury, often earmarked for specific public programs. Some examples of lottery-funded initiatives include:
– Education – K-12 schools, scholarships, financial aid, etc. This is the most common beneficiary.
– Infrastructure – Transportation, construction, utilities, etc.
– General fund – For any public programs and services.
– Environmental conservation
– Support for veterans
– Problem gambling education/treatment
The allocation of funds varies by state based on local laws and budget needs. Lotteries deliver over $22 billion annually in proceeds to good causes across the U.S. Ensuring funds go to worthwhile public projects has helped maintain ongoing political and public support for lottery play.
Criticisms and Controversies
While popular, lotteries and particularly multi-state games have faced some criticisms over the years:
– Some characterize lotteries as an inefficient “regressive tax” disproportionately burdening lower income players.
– There are concerns that offering lottery products creates problems for some compulsive gamblers.
– Certain religious groups oppose gambling in any form.
– There is a misperception that jackpots are “split” reducing payouts. In reality, each winning ticket takes the full advertised share.
– A few players have attempted to manipulate lottery odds by cornering ticket sales for certain combinations.
– Occasionally, there are retailer scandals where staff try to illegally claim winning tickets.
Despite some controversies, lotteries in general enjoy strong public support due to the funds they earn for state budgets. Multi-state games have only heightened enthusiasm and sales by offering chances at mega jackpots. Responsible policies and practices by MUSL member lotteries help maintain confidence and satisfaction in lottery play.
The Future of Multi-State Lottery Games
Looking ahead, multi-state lottery games seem likely to remain highly popular. The core games like Powerball and Mega Millions are firmly ensconced as entertainment staples, regularly delivering eye-popping jackpots. Minor enhancements to game designs or prize structures over time may keep players engaged.
Lotteries will continue innovating with new shared specialty games designed to complement the main jackpot offerings. Online channels and mobile apps are making lotteries more convenient while expanding access to younger adults. More states may pursue legislation to launch their own lotteries so their residents can participate in multi-state play.
Of course, future growth faces challenges. A recessionary economy could hamper consumer discretionary spending. Some states may divert more lottery proceeds to general funds rather than specific programs. But lotteries have historically shown resilience even in difficult times as players are drawn to jackpot dreams. For the foreseeable future, massive multi-jurisdictional games coordinated by MUSL appear set to thrive as a wildly popular, if controversial, American institution.
In summary, while no single entity owns the Multi-State lottery, it is operated cooperatively by dozens of state lotteries under the coordination of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). This collaboration allows the offering of hugely popular jackpot games like Powerball and Mega Millions. Profits generated from voluntary ticket sales remain in the jurisdiction where played to support local budgets. Despite some criticisms, Multi-State lottery games are likely to continue growing in popularity thanks to their ability to offer giant jackpot prizes that capture public interest and imagination. The shared model has successfully channeled Americans’ love of lottery play into a system providing major community benefits across multiple states.