A few days ago, a friend left an urgent message for me: “Make sure you buy a ticket in this week’s $100-million Powerball!” Lotteries are a low priority for me, but it’s amazing how a jackpot attracts interest – and sales for gaming companies – from people who don’t normally gamble.

To recap, the Powerball prize that was won last night by a Sydney woman, rose to $100 million in mid-January after no Division One winners surfaced in the previous week’s draw. The jackpot, unclaimed for eight weeks, is the largest in Australian history, matched only twice this decade.

Remarkably, one in three Australian adults were expected to buy a ticket in the draw, many of whom were not regular Powerball players. The $107 million win was the largest Australian lottery prize won by a single entry.

Mega-jackpots are important for ASX-listed Tabcorp Holdings, operator of Powerball. High-profile jackpots boost the company’s revenue, bring new customers to the game and stimulate repeat purchases. Mega-jackpots spark a blaze of free publicity.

Lotteries are huge business. The industry, worth $7.2 billion in 2017-18, delivered just over a half a billion dollars of profit from 288 firms, IBISWorld research shows. Tabcorp has a 37% market share of the Australian lotteries industry, by far the largest. 

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