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By Brad Tuttle
January 12, 2016
Nevada has plenty of casinos and slot machines, but no state lottery.
Nevada has plenty of casinos and slot machines, but no state lottery.
David Wall—Alamy

Powerball mania has taken over the U.S., with ticket sales soaring all over the country, pushing the jackpot higher and higher and making it more mathematically advantageous to take the normally inadvisable step of spending $2 on a ticket.

Powerball tickets aren’t for sale in every state, however. Specifically, six states—Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah—don’t have state lotteries, and therefore don’t sell tickets for Powerball or any other multi-state lottery games.

As a result, residents of these states who want a chance at winning the record-high jackpot have been crossing the border (when possible) to scoop up Powerball tickets. Alabamians have been streaming into Florida for this purpose, for example, and folks in Utah have been crossing into Idaho and other surrounding states on Powerball runs, bringing brisk business to convenience stores and gas stations near the border. (Alas, it’s a bit more complicated for people in Hawaii and Alaska to get Powerball tickets.)

Read Next: Why the Powerball Jackpot Has Soared So High So Quickly

Why do some states refuse to sell Powerball tickets, or have state lotteries at all? The reasons vary. A BBC story published during an earlier giant Powerball jackpot frenzy in 2015 noted that Hawaii has long feared that gambling would damage the tourism industry, while Alaska is awash in so much oil money it doesn’t need gambling revenues. Alabama and Utah, on the other hand, seem to be opposed to gambling of (almost) any kind due to the strong-held religious convictions of locals.

And then there are Mississippi and Nevada. Clearly, neither state has a problem with gambling; they openly and famously embrace the industry, with casinos aplenty. So why don’t they also have state lotteries and Powerball?

Read Next: The One Time It’s Mathematically Advantageous to Play Powerball

Well, it seems like they don’t have state lotteries directly because casinos and private gambling operations are so huge locally. “[Casinos] say the more money people are spending on lotteries, the less they have to spend in casinos,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal summed up. “The casinos’ position on a state lottery has been so unwavering that it’s entirely unsurprising when a lottery proposal is rejected by the state legislature.”

The casinos aren’t the only ones benefiting from the absence of a state lottery. Convenience stores and gas stations located just beyond Nevada, Mississippi, Utah, and Alabama state borders are pretty happy about the states’ anti-lottery stances as well. For instance, the (Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger recently highlighted how a Chevron station in Delta, La.,—population of 275, just over the Mississippi border—has had to hire extra security and string up yellow tape to create customer queues to cope with the crowds seeking Powerball tickets.

Mississippi’s loss is this Chevron station’s gain.

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The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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