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Powerball to be sold in California: Merchants, customers cheer

California lottery merchants say it's their lucky day.

The California Lottery Commission voted unanimously Thursday morning to bring the popular Powerball game to California, with $2 ticket sales beginning in April.

Lottery officials said the game is especially popular with customers because its pot starts at $40 million -- much higher than the $12 million starting point of the MegaMillions jackpot -- and increases by $5 million each time a drawing doesn't produce a jackpot winner.

"There's always a bit of a frenzy out there when the jackpot gets up there," said Russ Lopez, a California Lottery Commission spokesman.

The commission believes that adding the Powerball game could net the state between $90 million and $120 million annually in lottery revenue. Lottery commission officials said at least $50 million to $100 million of that will go directly to California schools.

California is one of eight states that now does not offer the Powerball game. Other states that do not offer the game are Utah, Nevada, Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi and Wyoming.

"People here are jumping up and down. We are so excited," said Eduardo Duran, an employee at Bluebird Liquor, in Hawthorne, which is legendary for drawing long lotto lines.

"Customers have been asking us about Powerball all week," Duran said. "We've even had a few people tell us they were headed to Arizona to buy tickets."

The vote to bring the game to California came just one day after the drawing for Powerball's $587.5-million jackpot. Two winning tickets were sold in Arizona and Missouri. Winners are given 180 days to claim their prize.

According to the memo, lottery officials commissioned a study to analyze the logistics of implementing the game in California and that, following that study, commission staff members recommended implementing the game in 2013.

The state lottery became licensed to offer Powerball tickets in California in September, but had to wait for the lottery commission to approve official game rules and regulations before offering the game.

To play Powerball, a participant must purchase a $2 ticket and pick five unique numbers from a field of one through 59, and a Powerball number from one through 35. The Powerball number can be the same as any of the first five numbers.

Danny Ta, owner of Long Beach Dairy & Liquor, said he will talk to the Lottery salesman about the game because he knows it's popular.

"I've had customers always asking me for the game, but I tell them California doesn't have it, only in other states," he said. 

Ta said if he gets the game for his store, he hopes to sell the winning ticket someday.

"Hopefully," he said, smiling.

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-- Wesley Lowery in Los Angeles and Ruben Vives in Long Beach

Follow Wesley Lowery on Twitter and Google+.

 
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