The suspension was brought into effect on Friday night, as players in Portland reported lottery terminals across the city displaying red screens and the words ‘Breaking News’. The alert informed lottery fans that Powerball, Mega Millions, Hot Lotto and Lucky for Life tickets would be unavailable to buy until a state budget is agreed and the government-enforced shutdown is lifted. Mega Millions and Lucky for Life were the first games to be pulled, with sales coming to an end on Friday, while Powerball and Hot Lotto entries met a similar fate after the draws on Saturday evening.
Maine State Lottery director Gregory R. Minero revealed that the organisation had voluntarily withdrawn the region from the four draws after being unable to contribute to the reserve fund of each game. Minero continued: “During a shutdown, no funds may go out of the state government that were not appropriated by the Legislature and this would fall under that category.”
Despite the shutdown, Minero assured lottery lovers living in the Pine Tree State that a whole host of gaming options would still be available, including the tri-state trio of Megabucks, Pick 3 and Pick 4, as well as Gimme5 and World Poker Tour. However, due to the closure of the Maine State Lottery office in Augusta, players who win over $600 will be unable to claim their prize until the shutdown has been lifted.
Maine, which posts weekly profits of $200,000 from the four draws, now follows Illinois in bringing an end to the sale of multistate lottery games due to financial issues. The Prairie State was forced to call time on the sale of Powerball tickets following the draw on Wednesday 28th June and Mega Millions tickets just two days later on Friday 30th June. Both states now find themselves in lottery limbo, with no resolution date in site and an immediate return looking very unlikely.
It’s not all doom and gloom for jackpot hunters of Maine, though, with tickets still being sold outside of the state, including in neighbouring New Hampshire. Players are also reminded that they can pick their numbers online for both Powerball and Mega Millions draws.