Without the changes, adding millions of potential players would have made jackpots less likely to rise to the levels needed to really generate revenue these days, Stambaugh said.
Years ago, the public would get excited about $10 million prizes.
"Now it takes $100 million to $150 million before we see increased sales activity," she said, adding that such gigantic jackpots can then grow "exponentially."
So, starting tonight, landing the top prize will be tougher. The odds of a single ticket's winning will be 1 in 195 million, up from 1 in 146 million.
Previously, players had to pick five numbers from 1 to 55, plus a Powerball from 1 to 42. Now it's 1 to 59 for the white balls and 1 to 39 for the red ball, Stambaugh said, referring to the orbs viewers see in the drawings on TV.
By boosting its jackpot odds, Powerball is tougher to win than Mega Millions, in which each ticket has a 1-in-176 million chance.
As a result, Powerball poses a bigger threat to take a run at Mega Millions' U.S. jackpot record of $390 million. A Cape May County couple and a Georgia man shared that March 2007 prize.
One Powerball prize level, however, is now easier to win: $1 million.
Before, players had to buy a $1 ticket that matched the first five numbers but not the Powerball, plus have purchased a $1 Power Play multiplier option, and have that option wind up a 5.
Only a Power Play of 5 could multiply the standard $200,000 second-tier prize to $1 million.
Now just buying the Power Play option boosts every $200,000 win to $1 million, regardless of whether the multiplier drawn is 2, 3, 4 or 5.
The starting jackpot used to be $12 million, which was less than the $15 million offered by Mega Millions, the other multistate lottery, which is used in New Jersey and nine other states.
Once this Powerball jackpot is hit, the next will be $20 million, unsurpassed in lotterydom, Stambaugh said.
Those are the only changes, she said. Tickets and Power Plays still cost $1, players still have the same nine ways to win, and players can still choose yearly installments or cash payouts.
Oh, and Uncle Sam will still collect the same percentage of taxes.
Florida, by the way, eclipses Pennsylvania as Powerball's most populous state.
For more information, go to www.philly.com/philly/news/lottery
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.