MADISON, Wis. - The Powerball jackpot has reached $550 million, and that has millions across Wisconsin snapping up tickets before Wednesday night's drawing.
Gas stations, grocery stores and other places that sell Powerball tickets have been incredibly busy Wednesday.
The Wisconsin Lottery estimated that in Wisconsin alone, anywhere from 5 million to 8 million tickets will be sold.
The surge in people buying Powerball tickets could mean more money in residents' pockets come tax time.
While Powerball is played in 44 states, much of the money from tickets bought in Wisconsin stays in the state.
"About 31 percent of all of our sales end up going back to property tax relief," said Wisconsin Lottery spokesman Andrew Bohage. "So when we have very big Powerball jackpots and a lot of Powerball-related sales, that is big chunk of money going to property tax relief from that one game alone," Bohage said.
Last year, that was about 20 percent of $144 million shared across the state. Taxpayers saw a credit of about $100 each in 2011.17585982
The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance said while some money is good, that number has been shrinking.
"As property tax levies continue to grow and the lottery tends to stay kind of stagnant, it becomes a declining share of the property tax bill," said Dale Knapp, of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
That doesn't mean it will discourage any buyers. One Indiana resident buying a ticket Wednesday was happy try his luck.
"Somebody is going to win, and you can't win if you don't play," said Mike Jones, of Fort Wayne, Ind.
And if people don't play, state residents won't see the benefits, either.
"Cool, it's worth my $2 investment then, especially if I win half a million," said Chris Abbeduto, of Sun Prairie.
The lottery said its proceeds covering a lower portion of residents' bills is the result of taxes going up along with the population. The lottery is dividing that credit among more property owners than in years past.
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