The coronavirus pandemic is forcing some changes on lottery games and the way winning tickets are cashed in.

Iowa Lottery spokesperson, Mary Neubauer, is getting the word out. “Clearly anything that is going on with the Iowa Lottery or with Powerball is just a very, very tiny slice of life these days and of the worries that we are all facing. But, at the same time at the Iowa Lottery, it is our responsibility to tell people what is going on with our games,” Neubauer says.

The starting jackpots in the multi-state Powerball game and the Mega Millions game will be eliminated, as will the minimum amount that the jackpot would increase between drawings. Neubauer says that is a function of fewer people playing with the restrictions brought on by the pandemic. “It truly has just reached a point where sales int he Powerball game if we left the game as it was — we are not going to be able to continue to support the payment of jackpots and the other prizes in the game,” Neubauer explains.

She says the jackpot changes adapt to the current situation. “After the April 8th drawing in the (Powerball) game, the starting jackpot is not going to be a guaranteed amount anymore — and the jackpot will grow between drawings by whatever amount is dictated by sales,” according to Neubauer. The jackpot changes for Meg Millions will take place after the April 7th drawing.

Neubauer says they have a plan for anyone who bought tickets with multiple plays that run after the April 7th and  8th  drawings. “They wouldn’t have known this information when they bought their tickets — so we are going to offer them free plays as a goodwill gesture. We will have information on how they can get those free plays on the Powerball page of the Iowa Lottery website at Iowa,” she says. There is Mega Millions information in that section of the website.

Neubauer says the social distancing rules are being followed at the Iowa Lottery offices. “We are only allowing folks to contact us by email or telephone. So if you have a winning ticket, you are certainly welcome to mail or ship that ticket to the Iowa Lottery. But we also have a secure dropbox option at our lottery headquarters in Clive,” Neubauer says. She says the dropbox accommodates everyone and keeps the social distancing rules in place.

Neubauer says some people with large winning tickets were not comfortable mailing or shipping the tickets, and they can use the dropbox. “We would ask for folks to call us and we can provide you information about that. In any of these instances, we would not be able to pay the prize on the spot like we normally would.”

Neubauer says they will go through proper procedures to handle the mailed in tickets and those left in the dropbox, and then will send out a check to the winners.

(This story was updated to add the changes in the Mega Millions drawings)