You might say Sacramentans have had a pent-up hunger to play the latest lottery game available in California: Powerball.
William McIntosh was among those in line at Lichine's Liquor & Deli in south Sacramento on Monday - the first opportunity to play the game in California.
McIntosh said he drove to Oregon last November to buy a Powerball ticket for a chance at a big jackpot. "I won't have to go that far anymore," he said. "They had some good corned beef at that deli, though."
Lichine's owner Ken Lo said the line for Powerball tickets had snaked around the store for hours. "It's been steady all day," he said, hurriedly taking cash and handing out tickets. "Everyone is excited to try it."
California - which already has a number of games, including SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions - is gambling that the multi-state Powerball lottery with larger starting jackpots of $40 million will be a big hit.
The first Powerball draw that includes California sales is Wednesday night. The estimated jackpot was $60 million as of late Monday.
The state lottery says Powerball draws will close every Wednesday and Saturday at 7 p.m. Pacific time and winning numbers will be drawn at 7:59 p.m.
The California Lottery Commission voted to adopt the multi-state game in November. Lottery officials said the game was OK'd by commissioners after much research and demand from lottery players.
Time will tell if the game will add to money that goes to California schools or simply draw away plays from two other games: SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions. Those two games will continue.
On Monday, Lichine's Lo said the new game wasn't cutting into many of his customers' routine buys of California State Lottery and Mega Millions tickets.
Lottery Director Robert T. O'Neill was convinced that the new game will be a boon for school funding.
"I expect Powerball to add anywhere between $50 to $100 million additional dollars to supplement public education funding, which is our one and only mission," O'Neill said in a news release at the time of the game's adoption by the commission. "Plus, our customers were pretty clear that they wanted us to bring Powerball to California."
John Ross has played the game in Louisiana and Tennessee, while crisscrossing the country to visit relatives. But on Monday, he stood in line at Lichine's, his neighborhood liquor store on South Land Park Drive, to get his first California Powerball ticket.
Powerball tickets cost $2 - which is more than the other California lottery tickets. Players choose five numbers from 1 to 59 and one red Powerball number from 1 to 35. Players can make their own number choices or use a quick-pick option.
"They cost a little more than my regulars," said Ross, who plays the $1-a-ticket Fantasy 5, Mega Millions and SuperLotto Plus every day. "But the payoffs are so much more."
He was particularly interested in a $55 starting payoff for two correct numbers in the Powerball.
Pam Cameron of Sacramento said she plays all the games once a week, and just added the extra $2 for a Powerball ticket.
The geriatric-care manager is hoping to win one of the big jackpots worth millions. "I take care of a lot of poor people, so I would be able to help so many people with the money," she said.
Ann Dickson of Sacramento said she and her daughter were splitting up among different retailers to increase chances of winning.
"We will share whatever we win," she said. "There's enough to go around."
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
First Powerball draw that includes California sales is Wednesday night. Estimated jackpot was $60 million as of late Monday.
Powerball draws will close every Wednesday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
Winning numbers will be drawn every Wednesday and Saturday at 7:59 p.m.
Call The Bee's Anne Gonzales, (916) 321-1049. Follow her in Twitter @AnneGonzo .