The Iowa Lottery is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson talked with leader of the organization about the history of the lottery.
The legislation authorizing the lottery was signed into law in April of 1985, and ticket sales began on August 22nd of that year at the Iowa State Fair. The lottery started with one “scratch-and-win” ticket and sold six-point-four million of them in that first week. Lottery administrator Terry Rich says things have expanded dramatically.
He says they now start three new scratch tickets every week, and increased the number of products offered. Rich says they have totaled $4.8 billion in sales — with $2.6 billion paid out in prizes. Rich says $1.2 billion has gone to projects in the state. There was opposition to the Lottery when it began, and opposition continues today, but Rich says the Lottery is simply another entertainment option, and people who don’t want to play, don’t have to.
Rich says not every game is a big seller as they’ve found raffles and keno are a couple of things that don’t seem to work well here, and he says the “pick 3” and “pick 4” games aren’t as popular as they are on the east coast. The lottery has used 686 different scratch games, 155 different pull tabs, and 17 different types of lotto games in the 25 years since that first scratch ticket was sold in 1985.
Photo provided by the Iowa Lottery.