- Wisconsin Lottery
The Wisconsin Lottery is run by the government of Wisconsin. It is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). Its games consist of Mega Millions, Powerball, Megabucks, Supercash!, Badger 5, Pick 3, Pick 4, and scratch games.
The minimum age to buy Wisconsin Lottery tickets is 18.
The Money Game
Until 2003, a game show produced by the Wisconsin Lottery and Hearst-Argyle Television, called Wisconsin Lottery Money Game, was aired weekly on the Lottery's network of stations. Contestants won a chance to play the game (and $100) if a scratch ticket contained three "TV" symbols; if not chosen for the main game, would win at least $500 from a pool of money split between them and the other 54 players not chosen. Five contestants would play the game, consisting of four or five rounds where they would choose cash prizes hidden behind the letters WISCONSIN LOTTERY MONEYGAME, which were set up in the style of the Wheel of Fortune gameboard, but with reversed play. Here, contestants hit a plunger to light up one of the word columns, then picked one letter in that word. The letter was then turned over to reveal the prize, which in the last round was a maximum of $7,500. The winner of the main game went to the bonus round, where they spun a wheel which had alternating values of $25,000 and $50,000. During the show, new instant games were showcased, along with Lottery news, and a second-chance drawing of losing mailed-in tickets (instant and online) was conducted.
The program was taped at WISN-TV in Milwaukee; all contestants (who each could bring a guest 18 or older) living outside of the Milwaukee area (the city and its surrounding four-county area) received a two-night stay at the Grand Milwaukee Hotel (now the Four Points Sheraton-Mitchell Field) for their appearance. Hosts were Mark Johnson and Parker Drew; the show's hostess was Lori Minetti. Money Game became Super Money Game in mid-2002, involving more contests with a smaller contestant pool, equivalent to a lower-cost version of the Hoosier Lottery's Hoosier Millionaire.
The Lottery television network consisted of the following stations from the Lottery's inception until 2002: ;
- WISN (12) - Milwaukee
- WKOW (27) - Madison
- WBAY (2) - Green Bay
- WXOW & WQOW (19/18) - La Crosse/Eau Claire
- WAOW/WYOW (9/34) - Wausau/Eagle River/Rhinelander
- KBJR (6) - Superior, Wisconsin/Duluth, Minnesota (the only non-ABC station to air the show)
WISN Radio (1130) in Milwaukee broadcast the drawings on radio until the station's 1997 sale from Hearst to Clear Channel Communications. Several Wisconsin stations would pick up the audio portion of the television drawings, but most (as is the case now) read the winning numbers from Associated Press releases from the Lottery after the drawings, which also receive publication in newspapers throughout Wisconsin, USA Today, and the border areas of outlying states.
The Lottery's nightly drawings, starting in 1991 with the introduction of Supercash! (a $250,000 daily six-number game when it began) also took place at WISN-TV, and were usually drawn by its employees not part of the station's news department, or by employees of WISN Radio and WLTQ, which were owned by Hearst at the time and shared the WISN studios. In 1993, the Lottery added a Pick 3 game, followed by Pick 4 in 1997. The Lottery joined the multi-jurisdictional Lotto*America game in 1989. Later, the Lottery began its Wisconsin's Very Own Megabucks jackpot drawings after the launch of Powerball (which replaced L*A) in 1992.
Other games were added by the Lottery, but were not always successful, such as MUSL's Daily Millions, which was infamous for having few winners of the $1 million cash prize, and having a complicated drawing procedure involving three number pools and various colored balls. Another MUSL game, Cash4Life, which offered an annuitized prize of $1,000 per week for life (no cash option was available) with a first-prize win from a 99-ball pool; only four players won that game by its end in 1999. Neither WISN nor the Wisconsin Lottery network televised either game's drawings (held at 9:45pm) due to lack of popularity. The Badger 5 game continues to this day; its play style is found in most US lotteries.
The televised drawings and the Money Game were discontinued at the end of 2002 due to budget constraints and marginalizing of the game show into lower-rated timeslots. The drawings then moved to Madison and are done around 9:30pm nightly at the Lottery's headquarters building; the final stations which were part of the Lottery network continue to receive first priority by the Lottery to release the nightly numbers. The Mega Millions and Powerball drawings now can be aired by any Wisconsin station, although they usually televise the drawings only for large jackpots.
The first "modern" lottery tickets in Wisconsin were sold on Oneida Nation land near Green Bay. Before the Wisconsin Lottery began, some players who did not want to drive to Illinois tried their luck at stores on the reservation. The main game offered by the Oneida Nation was Big Green, which began as a pick-6-of-36 jackpot game. The Oneida Nation also offered a televised bingo game program on Green Bay stations in the mid-to-late 1980s, which was in the form of a caller reading the numbers on the bottom of the screen, with the lighted number board on the top portion, allowing winners to redeem winning cards at the tribe's bingo hall.
Pick 3 is played nightly. It began on September 21, 1992. Pick 3 draws three digits 0 through 9. Prices, prizes, and options vary.
Pick 4 began on September 15, 1997. It draws a four-digit number in the style of Pick 3.
Badger 5 also is nightly. It draws 5 numbers from 1 through 31. Badger 5 jackpots begin at $10,000, increasing by at least $1,000 per drawing if not won. Games cost $1. Badger 5 began on February 17, 2003.
SuperCash! also is nightly. It began on February 4, 1991. SuperCash! draws 6 numbers 1 through 39. Minimum play is 2 panels for $1; an even number of games must be played. The top prize is $350,000; initially, the top prize was $250,000.
Megabucks, a jackpot game, is drawn Wednesdays and Saturdays. It draws 6 numbers 1 through 49. Minimum play also is 2 panels for $1.
Powerball (multi-lottery game)
Since August 10, 1989, Wisconsin has been a member of MUSL. Powerball began on April 19, 1992. Its jackpots begin at $20 million; it is drawn Wednesday and Saturday nights. Each basic play costs $1; with the PowerPlay multipler, $2.
In January 2012, Powerball will have a new format; each basic game will cost $2, or, with PowerPlay, $3.
Mega Millions (multi-lottery game)
On October 13, 2009, the Mega Millions consortium and MUSL reached an agreement in principle to cross-sell Mega Millions and Powerball in US lottery jurisdictions. Wisconsin joined Mega Millions on January 31, 2010.
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