The “Iowa Lottery” is 15 years old today. Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill establishing a state-run lottery on May 15th, 1985, and three months later the first “scratch” ticket was sold. Ed Stanek has been the lottery’s commissioner since day one. He says things started out like “gangbusters” until the novelty wore off. He says they worked harder to keep people interested and had steady growth until casino gambling entered the state.Stanek discovered they had to offer new scratch games every couple of months to keep Iowans interested in the games. With that in mind, Stanek helped create the multi-state lottery game known as “Powerball” in 1992. Large jackpots lured in new players. The Lottery has awarded one-point-three billion dollars in prizes over the past 15 years. Another six-hundred-60 million dollars has been deposited in the state treasury. Long-time gambling opponent Paul Stanfield says the state shouldn’t be in the lottery business. He says the state “should not take advantage of people’s weakness.” Stanfield equates the state-sponsored gambling with the state dealing in an addictive drug like cocaine.This past year, the Iowa Legislature voted to allow “Powerball” to expand into other countries. Stanek says “Powerball’s” biggest challenge will be competing with “The Big Game” which handed out that three-hundred-63 million-dollar jackpot last week. The “Powerball” record jackpot was just under three-hundred million.
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