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Iowa Lottery History

September 18, 2020

My Mother Kept This Old Lottery Ticket From Years Ago…

The first lottery tickets sold in Iowa were in the “Scratch, Match & Win” scratch game. It was a $1 game with grey tickets featuring a hand holding a coin and scratching a ticket.

That game was the Iowa Lottery’s debut product on Aug. 22, 1985, the first day that lottery tickets were sold in Iowa. It was the only game sold by the Iowa Lottery at the time. And while the kick-off celebration that day was at the Iowa State Fair, lottery ticket sales got underway at the thousands of retail locations across the state that sold tickets.

We know that during the first week of sales, lottery players bought 6.4 million tickets in that game, and by Nov. 1 when the game ended, they had purchased 28.1 million tickets in it.

It’s always fun to look back and see how much things have changed in the past 35 years. Thank you to this player for a walk down memory lane!

October 25, 2019

One Year Ago: Iowa’s Largest Powerball Jackpot Winner

July 31, 2019

34 Years In The Making: Iowa Lottery Sets Records

The Iowa Lottery has just posted the best annual results in its 34-year history.

Lottery sales, proceeds to state causes, prizes to players, and retail commissions all set records in fiscal year 2019, which ended June 30. We think the results deliver on our promise to responsibly raise revenues for the state causes that are important to us all.

Click on the video above to see our thank-you message to our players, our retailers, and really, anyone who has an interest in the Iowa Lottery.

Our preliminary figures out today show that the Iowa Lottery generated a record $92.8 million in proceeds to state causes in FY 2019. Annual lottery sales were a record $390.9 million, while prizes to players totaled a record $241.9 million. Lottery sales commissions to the local businesses across Iowa that sell our tickets totaled $25.4 million, also a record.

Scratch games have always been the lottery’s leading product category and led the way again in FY 2019, with those games accounting for a record $250.6 million in sales in Iowa.

The lottery retailer with the most sales in Iowa was again the Hy-Vee store at 20 Wilson Ave. in Cedar Rapids. That location has been the No. 1 lottery retailer in Iowa for five straight years, and it sold nearly $950,000 in lottery tickets in FY 2019.

The largest prize won by an Iowa Lottery player in FY 2019 was a $343.9 million Powerball jackpot, and six other prizes of at least $1 million also were won in the state during the year.

July 15, 2019

It’s Not Just A Ticket

This week across the country, lotteries are pausing to say, “Thank you!” to our players, the businesses that sell our tickets, and really, anyone who’s ever taken an interest in the lottery, whether it be to ask us a question or just to think for a moment about what it would be like to win.

We know that the lottery is not just a ticket. It’s a daydream, something fun to pass the time, the source of meaningful help to vital causes, additional income to local businesses, and prizes to players.

Ever since the first scratch game that hit the market when the Iowa Lottery debuted back in August 1985, we’ve done our best to demonstrate that lottery products can be responsibly offered in a way that is consistent with our values as Iowans. It’s that “Iowa” stamp on everything we do that has brought lottery entertainment – and lottery winnings – to all areas of the state.

To date, the Iowa Lottery has raised more than $1.9 billion for the state programs that benefit us all. We anticipate that sometime within the next year, a lottery player somewhere in Iowa will buy the ticket that will put our proceeds over the $2 billion mark. That’s significant help for good causes that wouldn’t otherwise have been available here in our state, and we’re proud to be making that difference.

And we can’t forget prizes! They’re obviously one of the motivating reasons for people to play the lottery. Since 1985, our players have won more than $4.3 billion in prizes from the Iowa Lottery. It’s been so fun for us to be a part of those winning experiences. From prizes of just a couple bucks all the way up to jackpots of hundreds of millions of dollars, they all matter!

We’re often asked how lottery proceeds are used in Iowa today. The quick answer is that they have four main purposes: Proceeds from the Iowa Lottery provide support for our state’s veterans and their families through the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund; support through the Iowa Public Safety Survivor Benefits Fund for the surviving family members of Iowa peace officers and fire fighters who die in the line of duty; help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund; and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.

We also tip our hats to the retail partners that sell lottery tickets each and every day in Iowa. Our tickets are sold in about 2,400 locations statewide, and those local businesses receive a sales commission from the Iowa Lottery for each ticket they sell. In fiscal year 2018, lottery sales commissions totaled $24.2 million, and we’re proud to be making that difference in the bottom line for businesses across the state.

Nationwide, in fiscal year 2018, U.S. lotteries generated $23.4 billion for good causes and provided $4.8 billion in sales commissions to local businesses.

So, from all of us at the Iowa Lottery, thank you! We look forward to more lottery fun in Iowa – an active demonstration of the good that flows to the public from our state’s lottery.

March 01, 2019

A Look Back 30+ Years For National Old Stuff Day!

We’re taking a trip down memory lane because tomorrow is National Old Stuff Day!

That’s according to the National Day Calendar™, the website that tracks unusual and unique national days and has a day for just about everything.

According to the explanation given, National Old Stuff Day is a time to acknowledge the history in our lives, but at the same time, break out of our old routines and try something new.

So, to celebrate the history of the Iowa Lottery, we’re looking back to our very first game ever, which hit store shelves on Aug. 22, 1985, the day the lottery started. The $1 scratch game was called “Scratch, Match & Win!” and it was the only product we had at the time. More than 1.1 million tickets were sold in the lottery’s first four hours.

And below is a photo taken in the lead-up to the lottery’s start, with one of our staffers from back then posing in a “money bags” costume that was part of the start-up celebration. My, oh my, how time flies!

Fast forward to today, and the Iowa Lottery has four product lines: scratch games, lotto games, InstaPlay games and pull-tab games. We do our best to have a mix of games in the marketplace because we know that variety is the spice of life these days!

In keeping with the theme of Old Stuff Day, we’ll go on thinking about new game and prize ideas so the lottery can keep bringing you entertainment options while doing our best to raise proceeds for the state causes that benefit us all.

December 12, 2018

It’s Time To Go Electronic: We’re Asking To Modernize Iowa’s Lottery

Like any other business these days, the future looks more electronic for the Iowa Lottery, and we think it involves sales of our products on personal consumer electronic devices (smart phones, tablets, PCs, etc.).

That is the outcome from a “future-looking” discussion we had with the Iowa Lottery Board this week about how the Iowa Lottery can best position itself to continue providing the proceeds that people count on from us for state causes.

Today’s quickly evolving consumer behavior stands to have a huge impact on the Iowa Lottery as we move ahead. For that reason, we’ve filed legislation for the upcoming 2019 session that we believe will allow the lottery to modernize its operations.

Current state law already would allow the lottery to sell its lotto games online, but we have not yet taken that step. Our proposed legislation would allow the sale of any of our products on personal consumer electronic devices. We believe that for its ongoing success, the lottery must enter the world of e-commerce.

Our proposal also would update the ways that people can pay for lottery tickets in Iowa to include cash, check, money order, debit card and prepaid gift card (all of which can already be used) as well as payments through electronic wallets or mobile applications. I will emphasize that credit is prohibited in the purchase of lottery tickets today in Iowa and that would remain the case under our proposal . The e-wallets would allow players to establish electronic accounts with the lottery and play lottery games online using money they put in those accounts.

This conversation isn’t unique to Iowa: Ten U.S. lotteries already sell products online, and the issue is under discussion in states all across the country.

The Iowa Lottery is currently in a very strong position. We’ve introduced new products in recent years like our InstaPlay games and we’ve enhanced and re-invigorated our long-term product lines to keep our games fresh. But without the ability to modernize our products, we anticipate that Iowa Lottery proceeds will only continue at their current levels for a few more years at most, and then we expect a downturn. The steep, ongoing decline in the use of cash, the ever-increasing trend toward e-commerce, and consumer demand for greater convenience all are factors.

A majority of Americans no longer regularly carry cash. And if they do, nearly half say they keep less than $20 on hand.

As consumers, we’re buying even everyday staples like groceries online. Many times, we don’t go to the store anymore. We have someone else get the items for us and then we want our order brought out to our car or delivered to our home. And a maximum two-day delivery is a normal that we demand for many online purchases.

Because the Iowa Lottery isn’t yet selling its games online, we’ve had to push back against illegal apps that are moving in. Those apps are re-selling lottery tickets through illegal means and there is no way for anyone to be certain that consumers are receiving the winnings they’re due. We’ve taken steps to shut down the apps or prevent them from doing business in Iowa, but they continue to multiply.

Our legislation takes into account these realities, giving the Iowa Lottery the ability to securely move into e-commerce while maintaining strong retailer involvement.

We know there are many ways that retailers can be part of any e-commerce system at the Iowa Lottery. For example, in Michigan, the lottery sells online game cards through its lottery terminals and self-service kiosks in retail locations. Customers can buy those game cards in increments from $10 up to $100 and use them to fund their e-wallets with the Michigan Lottery. The game cards can be eligible for bonuses, meaning that players can win an amount above and beyond what they purchased. The bonus system gives players an incentive to buy the game cards at retail locations and retailers in turn get a sales commission from the lottery. Twenty-five percent of online lottery players in Michigan have funded their accounts with a game card.

The statistics from other states and countries with long-term online lottery sales demonstrate that sales of traditional lottery products at retail increase along with the introduction of online sales. The added convenience creates an “omni-channel” approach to lottery sales.

Sophisticated age-gating and geo-gating technology is used by all U.S. lotteries that offer online gaming, ensuring that players are of the legal minimum purchasing age and that they’re physically located within the borders of that state in order to play.

We’re also impressed by the enhanced responsible gaming opportunities that online sales would bring. It’s nearly impossible to set any type of spending restrictions involving cash, but deposit limits are a standard feature for lotteries using electronic player accounts. And, players have the ability to set their own personal deposit limits that are even lower than those set by the lottery. Players also can electronically self-exclude themselves from playing online for a period of time or even permanently if they’re concerned about problem gambling.

The future will be here before we know it! So here at the lottery, we’re doing our best to be ready.

The facts behind the fun.

Marion man wins $100,000 in Iowa Lottery game

DES MOINES — A Marion man’s word search led him to $100,000.

The Iowa Lottery said Steven Wagner won the second top prize in the lottery’s Word Search InstaPlay game after buying the ticket at a local convenience store.

Word Search is a $20 game that features 25 top prizes of $100,000, 75 prizes of $20,000 and overall odds of one in 3.05, according to lottery officials.

InstaPlay tickets are called “scratchless” because they have no security coating that needs to be removed to determine the prize won. And rather than having supplies of tickets printed in advance like those in traditional scratch and pull-tab games, InstaPlay tickets are printed on demand from the lottery terminal.

Marion man wins $100,000 in Iowa Lottery game DES MOINES — A Marion man’s word search led him to $100,000. The Iowa Lottery said Steven Wagner won the second top prize in the lottery’s Word