Despite a sour economy and a harsh winter, the Iowa Lottery is reporting several records and near-records for earnings during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010.
Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich says he didn’t expect the final figures to reach as high as they did. There were more than $256 million in sales for the year, which included the highest totals from Lotto, instant-scratch and pull-tab games since the Iowa Lottery started in 1985.
“Looking at the economy and the bad weather in January and February, this is surprising to us, especially with the national gaming industry being down about five-percent, that the Iowa Lottery was actually up four percent in sales this year,” Rich says.
While the agency itself is reporting a good fiscal year, Rich says it was a great year for the players. Iowa has seen seven $1 million winners in the past six months. Overall, Iowa Lottery players took home a record of $150 million in prizes from the lottery’s core products, a four-percent increase from the previous record total of $145 million in fiscal year 2008.
“There are two ways the Iowa Lottery can give back to the state of Iowa,” Rich says. “One is to give back to the winners and this year, we had a record number of winners and dollars back to our Iowans, and secondly, giving back to the state of Iowa. Total combined was one of the best ever.”
The lottery returned a record $208 million to Iowans for the year, either directly in prizes or in profits to state programs. The figures released by Rich and his staff on Tuesday show the lottery raised nearly $58 million in profits for state programs during the year, which Rich says is down slightly from the year before.
“Our proceeds to the state were down just a little bit due to early retirements and the payouts for the health and the early retirement incentives for the State of Iowa,” Rich says. “That will actually help us in the long run because with less employees now, we save more money and, hopefully, that’ll be more benefits to the state.”
Looking at the fiscal year ahead, Rich says there are no major changes forseen, but probably a host of smaller changes. “Our business model shows that we always want to try to tweak, add new and exciting things to the existing (product line) and we’re obviously doing lots of research to find out what our players like,” Rich says. “So I think you’re going to see some new Lotto games, maybe a new national game coming down the pike, maybe a couple of tweaks to Powerball and lots and lots of new variations to our popular scratch tickets.”
Rich says one highlight in this fiscal year’s report is the $5.4 million raised for the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund through instant-scratch and pull-tab games, with proceeds dedicated to the fund. The initial goal was $2 million to $3 million.