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Powerball jackpot could soar to $500 million if no winner tonight

If no one wins tonight's $400-million Powerball drawing, the money will rollover, and the jackpot could soar to $500 million, lottery officials say.

The drawing is scheduled for 10:59 p.m. EST, or 7:59 p.m. on the West Coast, according to the Multi-State Lottery Assn. Drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday night.

The $400-million jackpot is the sixth-largest in U.S. lottery history, and the odds of winning are about 1 in 175 million, officials said.

“We’re getting into this routine now where this is becoming normal,” California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said, “which is great for us because when you look at sales, they’re steadily climbing.”

Traverso said that year-to-date, the California Lottery is generating about 150% of the revenue it did during the same period in the previous fiscal year.

Even though sales are no longer “exploding” as they were when the wave of nine-digit jackpots began, he said that collectively, the spikes in sales add up.

“I don’t even know what it takes to get the office pool going anymore,” he said. “To get the casual player, it takes maybe a half a billion dollars, which has a nicer ring to it.”

The bigger jackpots are drawing more players and excitement to the California Lottery after years of decline. The turnaround is a result of changes made to the lottery in 2010, when revenue was falling.

The changes brought bigger prizes, but they also altered the formula for how much revenue schools receive.

California joined Powerball last April, and since then enormous jackpots have become more common. About a month after the state joined the game, a Powerball jackpot climbed to about $600 million, setting a record for the game.

Officials say that with Powerball’s $2 tickets, jackpots in that game can rise faster with fewer tickets sold than in a game like Mega Millions, which costs $1 per play.

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matt.stevens@latimes.com

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