The Iowa Lottery has been under intense scrutiny recently with the TouchPlay machine controversy — but the organization is now celebrating a milestone. Iowa Lottery spokeswomen Tina Potthoff says in its 20 years of operation, the lottery has now hit the one billion dollar mark in profits returned to the state. While the TouchPlay controversy has focused all kinds of criticism on the Iowa Lottery, Potthoff says this is an accomplishment to celebrate.
Pothoff says the one billion dollars returned to the state comes from nearly four billion dollars in Iowa Lottery products sold in 20 years. She says the number one sales item has been instant scratch tickets, brining in one-point-eight billion dollars. Powerball tickets were number two in sales with about 700-million dollars, and the third most sales came from pull-tab tickets. Pull-tabs have brought in 476-million dollars.
There were critics of gambling — and the Iowa Lottery — even before the TouchPlay issue surfaced. Potthoff answers them by saying the money returned to the state helps pay for hundreds of state programs. Pothoff says in 1991 lottery profits were designated for environmental and cultural programs, but in 1995 the money was diverted to the general fund. She says 60-percent of that money helps Iowa schools, while the rest goes to the Justice Department, Health and Human Services Department and agricultural programs.
Pothoff says there’s been a lot of discussion on the amount of revenue the TouchPlay machines have produced — but she says it’s a small amount in the big picture. Pothoff says the TouchPlay profits are only two-percent of the one-billion dollar total given back to the state, “So it just goes to show you that a lot of our other products have been very successful over the years.”
Pothoff says nearly two billion dollars of the money generated from the sale of lottery products has been returned to players for prizes.