Californians will double down on the lottery Monday when the Golden State becomes the 43rd state to join the Powerball jackpot game.

Tickets will cost $2 instead of the usual $1 for existing "pick six" games such as SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions. State lottery officials are betting the higher Powerball payoffs will lure more players and increase revenues sent to public schools. The Powerball jackpot reached $50 million Saturday and was expected to hit at least $60 million for the Wednesday drawing that includes California players, said Alex Traverso, California Lottery spokesman.

"Powerball has the ability to grow the largest and the fastest pools. You'll see it jump a lot and we'll even have those occasions where we will see mid-week adjustments if sales are great," Traverso explained.

SuperLotto Plus jackpots start at $7 million and rise by $1 million increments when no one wins. Mega Millions - also a multi-state game - resets at $12 million. Powerball starts at $40 million. If no one picks all six numbers (five regular numbers, plus the Powerball number) by Wednesday night, the Powerball jackpot jumps to $70 million or higher.

The hype has reached a fever pitch since the California Lottery Commission voted unanimously to join the multi-state game in November, though not everyone is singing its praises. Taking the positive side, the state Lottery launched billboard, radio and TV ads last week around the theme of "believe in something bigger." In one ad, exuberant Californians do cannonballs into Powerball-filled swimming pools and make Powerball snow angels on their front lawns.

Lottery officials say the Powerball game will continue the upward trajectory of state lottery sales. Sales remained steady at $3 billion in 2011 but jumped to $4.4 billion in sales in 2012, Traverso said. "We've grown $1.5 billion in sales in the last year and a half," he added.

While some retailers interviewed wonder whether overall sales will increase or be spread among more platforms, the Lottery folks in Sacramento know for sure they won't have to answer those annoying phone calls from Californians after the latest Powerball winner from New Jersey or Michigan gets bombarded with confetti while holding a giant cardboard check. For example, state folks got calls after November when two winners from Arizona and Missouri split the largest jackpot in Powerball history - $587.5 million.

"We feel people have been excited for this for quite a while," Traverso said. "We would get flooded with calls from people asking: 'How come you don't have the Powerball?'" he said.

At Bluebird Liquor in Hawthorne, a top 3 lottery retailer in the state, Eduardo Duran was planning on working the Monday morning shift, something he rarely does. He's expecting an onslaught of eager Powerball players.

Bluebird Liquor has had six winners above $1 million jackpots. Retailers receive one half of one percent of a jackpot. One Yelp reviewer calls Bluebird "a magical place" for playing the lottery and last year during a $640 million Mega Millions jackpot, lines to buy tickets snaked around the building.

"We've been getting ready. Everybody is already coming in to write down their numbers on the slips of papers," Duran said last week, the day Powerball tickets were made available to the 21,000 retail outlets in the state. "People like to sit down with their family (and pick their numbers)," he said. "They use birthdays, stuff like that. "

Powerball players choose five numbers from 1 to 59, and a Powerball number from 1-35. Or, they can let the computer do the choosing. "Everybody will be here Monday for the quick picks," said Bertha Suarez, who was shopping Thursday at Diaz Liquor in Irwindale, the oldest retail establishment in this work-a-day town. She planned to be back Monday at the conclusion of her shift at the nearby Subway restaurant.

Diaz, who sports a muscle T-shirt and a large, silver cross around his neck, believes God allowed him to sell the first jackpot winner in Irwindale three years ago and promised him another winner. "I sold the first. I'm hoping to get the other one shortly, soon," he said.

People purchase lottery tickets Thursday, April 4, 2013 at Bluebird Liquor in Hawthorne. The liquor store is one of the top 3 places to buy Super Lotto
People purchase lottery tickets Thursday, April 4, 2013 at Bluebird Liquor in Hawthorne. The liquor store is one of the top 3 places to buy Super Lotto Plus and Mega Millions lottery tickets. Powerball Lottery is coming to California for the first time Monday. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

When someone gets lucky at picking the winning numbers, this is more than coincidence, Diaz said. The longtime owner of the popular store describes luck as something ordained by a benevolent God. "God sees someone who he wants to get out of his rough life and he lets him win a lot of money, so that he might sow unto himself and his family," he explained. "God gives him the power - a chance to effect goodwill in his lifetime. "

Miguel Claros of Inglewood fits the category. He won $207,000 two years ago and used it to send his two children to college. One attends UC Davis, he said. He also bought a house in El Salvador. "Now it's all gone," he said last week while buying a Mega Millions ticket at Bluebird Liquor.

Not everyone sees the lottery, nor the introduction of Powerball in California, as a good thing.

Although the lottery sent about $1.3 billion in supplemental dollars to schools last year and officials estimate the new game will add $50 million to that figure, most school officials say this means next to nothing because the state began taking money away from schools on the back end.

Is it true what the first lottery ads in 1984 used to say, "Our schools win, too. "?

"No. It is not a significant enough amount of money," said Joann Steinmeier, a school board member from Arcadia since 1992, just a few years after the state lottery began in 1985 with the passage of Proposition 37 the year before by 58 percent of the votes. "Even now, it is not a significant source of funding for California schools and it never has been. It doesn't make a difference. It is a paper shuffle. "

Last year, the overall budget for California's K-12 public schools was $68 billion.

Psychology and sociology professor Faye Wachs of Cal Poly Pomona said tying state-sponsored gambling to education funding is wrong.

"It is using gambling to fund the social good. What kind of message is that? And it is not bringing in this huge amount of money that it was supposed to. Most of the money goes to administering the lottery and advertising the lottery," she said.

Lottery Director Robert T. O'Neill disagreed. In a prepared statement, O'Neill said adding a second multi-state game not only will offer more variety to players, but also adds funding to education, "which is our one and only mission. "

The state lottery wants to capitalize on the frenzy created by the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot awarded in March 2012 to three people from Maryland, Illinois and Kansas. It hopes the Powerball, like Mega Millions, will bring less frequent players into the fold.

"Hopefully, we are expanding our reach, trying to reach a younger demographic," Traverso said.

Not much research has been done on the demographics of lottery players, Wachs said. However, anecdotally, she thinks young people don't buy into the fantasy.

"Young people are just not traditionally interested. Young people are a little more skeptical of the American Dream, having grown up in a world where climate change is a serious issue and where business and profits are questioned," Wachs said.

At Diaz Liquor and at Bluebird, most lottery players ranged from their 30s to 60s. Many were looking for a nice bump in retirement income.

Larry Condon, who turns 65 next month, has been driving a truck his whole adult life. He'll be playing Powerball as a way to increase his chances of winning, he said. Will it happen? "I hope so. Before I retire," he said.

Similarly, Salvador Polce, 56, of Alhambra, spends about $600 to $700 a year on lottery tickets. That may go up since Powerball tickets cost twice as much. Though he hasn't hit a big jackpot, he hasn't stopped believing.

"Hey. Hope is the last thing that dies," he said as he exited the liquor store, two SuperLotto tickets in hand.