The Iowa Lottery finished the first quarter with sales of nearly $68-million-dollars an increase of over 10% compared to the first quarter last year. Sales have stayed strong despite economic woes. Lottery C.E.O., Terry Rich, says when times are tough people like to dream “what if,” and buying a lottery ticket provides a bit of escapism.

“People aren’t spending the dollars to take the long expensive trips, almost like they’re needing a little escape from all the crazy things that are happening in today’s society,” Rich says,”So I think it’s local, it’s low cost, for a couple of bucks you can think about that big dream.”

Rich says over the past 25 years lottery profits have risen and fallen depending on competition. He says when the casinos started up proceeds went down considerably. The Touchplay caused lottery revenues to go up considerably. Rich says for the core business, scratch tickets and pull tabs are having an “absolutely historic year” in proceeds for the state of Iowa. Rich says because people have to make a conscious decision to buy a lottery ticket it’s important to keep the games fresh and exciting.

Rich says the lottery is the biggest “optional revenue stream” the state has, because if people don’t want to play, they don’t. He says it’s up to the lottery to make sure people are getting a value when they play. The proceeds for the state for this quarter will be 17-million dollars — 16% more than the same time last year.