The Iowa Lottery reports proceeds to the state are already over the $58.7 million the organization projected for the fiscal year that ends in July. The money returned to the state in March was $10-million more than March of last year.
Lottery C.E.O. Terry Rich says the world-record Mega Millions jackpot last month was part of the reason for the increase. “The Mega Millions jackpot was big, I guess really big, in that it added about two-and-a-half to three million dollars in proceeds of the state,” Rich says.
“But overall, the big growth has been in scratch tickets. People who just enjoy having a cup of coffee and playing the Monopoly scratch ticket at the local convenience store continue enjoying that kind of product.” March was the fourth straight month with record scratch ticket sales.
Rich has said in the past that high gas prices were something that could hurt lottery sales. He says that was evident in the past when price hit $3.50 a gallon, but he says the threshold now is higher.
“We’re thinking it would take a $4.50 a gallon cost of gasoline to really impact sales now. And with the economy this has kind of also changed the dynamics because I think people are looking for a way to kind of escape all the craziness that’s happened with this poor economy. And being able to spend a few dollars and dream a little about a big return with a jackpot, I think it gives some hope and some optimism. And I think that’s helped us with a few dollars and a local place to buy it with our sales,” Rich explains.
He expects the strong sales to continue through the final three months of the fiscal year. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the lottery is going to have the best year in its history on its core products, the pull tabs, scratch tickets and our lotto tickets. So it’s going to be a big year, but the beauty I think of what we’ve always said bout the lottery is that it’s optional revenue — people only play if they want to,” Rich says.
Lottery proceeds were over $60.4million by the end of March.