As millions of players awaited Wednesday night's record $1.5 billion Powerball drawing, Maryland's lottery director invited out-of-staters to buy a ticket in Maryland. He even mentioned a possible inducement.

"Because Maryland is one of six states to allow anonymity, we encourage people to come play in Maryland," said Gordon Medenica, director of the Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. His solicitation was offered in a light tone, but it reflected noteworthy facts for the winner and the state:


•Maryland, Delaware, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina are the only states specifically allowing lottery winners to remain anonymous. Though with such a media frenzy, it may be difficult to avoid detection even in those states.

•Maryland and other Powerball venues have a financial stake in where a winning ticket is sold. The game is offered in 44 states plus the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

The current jackpot for Wednesday's drawing has a $930 million cash option. If somebody wins in Maryland and chooses that option, they will net $616.1 million. Maryland's share in taxes would be $81.37 million, with the money going to the state's general fund.

An alternative would be to receive the jackpot over 29 years. Under this annuity option, the winner would claim a minimum of $14.9 million per year in graduated payments. Maryland's share would be $1.9 million a year.

In addition to gaining tax revenue, Maryland would net positive publicity for its lottery games if a winning Powerball ticket were claimed in the state.

"All of the above," Medenica said of the benefits the state could derive.

Winners are also subject to federal taxes at the top rate of 39.6 percent. The first 25 percent would be withheld immediately, with the remainder due in April 2017.

But at least the winner "would be allowed to deduct gambling losses against the gambling wins," said Richard Friedlander, tax partner at Rosen, Sapperstein & Friedlander, LLC. "If you, for instance, were to go to the casino and you lost a million bucks in the tax year, you could deduct it."

Friedlander said "consideration would need to be given" to accepting the 29-year option. "What would you do with all this money all at once? Life-changing doesn't even start to describe it," he said. "When this is thrust on you suddenly, it's a very difficult situation. I know it sounds like a blessing. You've got charities. You've friends you don't even remember. You've got relatives."

The Powerball jackpot is won by matching the numbers on five white balls — drawn from 69 total — in any order and the red Powerball. To increase the game's flagging popularity, Powerball managers tweaked the game in October to boost the chances of producing tantalizing giant jackpots as well as to offer more wins of secondary prizes.

Under the change, the chances of winning the biggest prize went to 1 in 292 million from 1 in 175 million. But the odds of winning any prize – including as small as $4 — were boosted from 1 in 32 to 1 in 25.

As of Tuesday afternoon, lottery officials estimated that 85.8 percent of all the possible number combinations had been purchased.

"I've got to believe there are going to be probably multiple winners," Medenica said. The drawing is at 10:59 p.m., Eastern Time.