21 April 2016

It's Aussies Vs. Yankies!

US PowerBall vs. Australian Powerball - Which Is Best?

Thursday's Powerball draw is not only one of the most popular lotteries in Australia, in jackpot terms it's also one of the biggest. But did you know that the lottery is actually based on an American lottery of the same – and that this American PowerBall offers some of the biggest lottery jackpots in the world?

US PowerBall vs. Australian Powerball - Which Is Best?

Of course we shouldn’t be surprised that the American version is much bigger. But the true question is – is it better?

In this article we put both lotteries head to head, the popular Australian Powerball draw we all know and love, and its bigger, louder American cousin.

Powerball - A Name Synonymous with Winning

Australian Powerball held its first draw in May 1996. Since then the lottery has grown in popularity throughout the nation and has been responsible for some of the biggest Australian jackpots of all time. This includes the record jackpot of $80 million AUD, which was won back in 2009 – the second largest jackpot ever won in Australia. 

American PowerBall is even older still. It started back in 1992, itself a reinvention of a previous lottery called Lotto*America. It was the first of its kind, using two drums – a regular number drum plus a second for the PowerBall numbers.

This new format would inspire other lotteries worldwide, including rival American lottery MegaMillions, EuroMillions across the Atlantic and, of course, Powerball here in Australia.

US PowerBall has the distinction of having the most record jackpots of any lottery in the world, including the top position which it won, in spectacular style, from MegaMillions in January 2016, when it became the first jackpot to exceed $1 billion US. The jackpot eventually rolled over to coming in at $1.58 billion USD, or more than $2 billion Aussie dollars! 

US PowerBall with New Rules

The seeds of this massive jackpot were sown in summer 2015, when it was announced that the lottery would undergo a significant format change as of October 7th. This includeed the addition of ten extra regular numbers, from 59 to 69, and a reduction of the amount of playable PowerBall numbers from 35 to 26.

It increased the odds against winning the jackpot quite dramatically, from 1 : 175,223,510 to 1 : 292,201,338, but also gave players better odds of winning lower division prizes.

The changes therefore reflect the current trend of late, to increase the odds of winning the jackpot (therefore providing more rollovers and larger jackpots overall) while giving players more chances of winning smaller prizes. (Similar changes took place for both the Irish Lotto and UK Lotto.)

As of the new changes, therefore, the two lotteries stack up as follows:

  American PowerBall Australian Powerball
Regular Numbers 69 40
PowerBall Format 26 20
Prize Divisions 9 8
Any Prize Odds 1 : 25 1: 55
Jackpot Odds 1 : 292,201,338 1 : 76,767,600
Record Jackpot $2.1 billion AUD  $80 million AUD



In terms of jackpots, the Americans win hands down beating Aussie Powerball many, many times over. Let's face it, there are millions of more players in America, and they're always inclined to do everything bigger anyway.

As far as jackpot odds are concerned, however, bigger is not better. You're almost four times as likely to win the Australian Powerball jackpot than you are the American one. And while the American version gives you more chances to win overall, the lower division prizes are way more generous in Australia.

So, what it boils down to is a simple question – do you want to play for insanely large jackpots at equally insane odds and maybe win a few dollars on a lower prize division, or do you want to go for jackpots that are still pretty huge, but have a way better chance of winning?

When you look at it this way, therefore, it's plain to see that Australian Powerball is still a clear winner.

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