Historic Prize Renews Focus on Lottery’s Future

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

BOSTON (AP) — The historic Powerball prize claimed by a Massachusetts woman this week has focused new attention on the state lottery, a vital, if not always well understood, cog in state and local government.

Lottery officials were beaming Thursday when Mavis Wanczyk, a 53-year-old hospital worker from Chicopee, emerged as the sole winner of the $758 million jackpot — the largest ever won with a single ticket. She opted for a lump sum of $336 million, after taxes.

Lottery officials apologized for initially reporting the ticket had been bought in Watertown.

Since 1972, the state says the lottery has sold $110 billion in tickets, awarded $77 billion in prizes and distributed $25 billion in local aid to cities and towns.

But key questions remain going forward, including whether to allow online sales of lottery tickets, as a bill currently before a legislative committee would do.

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