CLIVE, Iowa – Record sales of instant-scratch tickets led the Iowa Lottery to achieve annual results in its Top 4 overall and finish fiscal year 2017 well ahead of budget projections.
The biggest difference from the previous year’s record results came in the sales total for Powerball®, which saw a world-record jackpot of nearly $1.6 billion in January 2016 that had spurred enormous sales in Iowa and across the country.
“The ‘chance factor’ was highlighted this year in terms of the jackpots in our lotto games,” Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said. “There simply won’t be a world-record jackpot every year. But the lottery is in a healthy position overall and we continue to deliver more than we had forecast for state causes. We understand that lottery results can and do fluctuate over time, which is why we budget conservatively.”
Preliminary results released Thursday show that the Iowa Lottery generated nearly $81 million in proceeds to state causes in FY 2017, which ended June 30. It was the fourth time that annual proceeds topped the $80-million mark in the lottery’s 32-year history. Annual lottery sales were $352.2 million, exceeding the $300 million mark for the sixth year in a row. Prizes to players totaled $215.6 million, while lottery sales commissions to retailers during the year totaled nearly $23 million.
Connor Flynn Jr. of Des Moines, the advertising executive who chairs the Iowa Lottery Board, said that he looks to the lottery to stress integrity, responsible play and strong communications every year.
“In our Board meetings throughout the year, lottery staffers share the details of their work across the lottery’s operations,” Flynn said. “I believe the lottery is positioned well to continue to serve as an affordable, local entertainment option in Iowa and generate valuable proceeds for state causes.”
Flynn also noted that during the past year, the lottery received another clean report from the State Auditor’s Office in its annual review of the lottery’s operations.
The preliminary figures released Thursday show that lottery sales in FY 2017 decreased 4 percent from the previous year’s record total of $366.9 million. Lottery proceeds to state causes for the year decreased about 8 percent while prizes to players decreased nearly 3 percent from the previous year’s record numbers.
In general, the particular type of lottery product that sells best in a given time period has a big impact on overall lottery results. For example, instant-scratch games have a smaller profit margin than do lotto games like Powerball and Mega Millions. But sales in lotto games are largely jackpot driven and can fluctuate greatly from week to week and year to year. Scratch-game sales and pull-tab sales are more consistent over time.
So in a year like FY 2017 when scratch tickets sell particularly well, lottery profits will likely be a smaller percentage of total sales simply because scratch games have a smaller profit margin overall. In a year when lotto tickets sell particularly well as they did in FY 2016, lottery profit margins will likely be higher.
Scratch games achieved record results in FY 2017 for a third straight year, with sales totaling $237.6 million, an increase of nearly $4 million from the previous record that had just been set in FY 2016. Scratch tickets were the first product introduced by the lottery in Iowa and have always been one of its top-selling items.
“Game design, the top prize available, the color of the ticket, the artwork on the ticket, the jackpot on the line and the particular time of year involved all can have an impact on lottery sales,” Rich said. “We do our best to be cognizant of those factors and keep a good mix of games in the field to appeal to different customers.”
Powerball, without a world-record jackpot during the fiscal year, saw sales fall 27 percent from the previous year’s record performance, but still achieved a total of $54.3 million.
Rich thanked retailers for their work in selling lottery products in FY 2017, noting that local businesses across the state received $22.9 million in sales commissions from the lottery.
Another highlight of the lottery’s FY 2017 results was the $2.5 million it raised for the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund to benefit our state’s veterans and their families. The lottery now has raised more than $22 million for the Veterans Trust Fund since it began providing proceeds to that cause in 2008.
Here is a year-to-year comparison of annual lottery sales by product:
FY 2017 Sales
FY 2016 Sales
All or Nothing
Lucky for Life
*The InstaPlay product debuted in Iowa in November 2016.
The Top 10 retailers in Iowa for lottery sales in FY 2017 were in six different communities:
FY 17 Sales
20 Wilson Ave. SW
2540 E. Euclid Ave.
1843 Johnson Ave. NW
2323 W. Broadway Ave.
1520 Sixth St. SW
Hawkeye Convenience Store
2330 Wiley Blvd SW
3235 Oakland Road NE
4000 University Ave.
810 Fourth Ave. S
2400 Fourth St. SW
Four Iowa Lottery players claimed prizes of at least $1 million during the fiscal year.
April 27, 2017
March 17, 2017
Jeff Tomlinson Jr.
October 7, 2016
Rick Breuss Jr.
West Des Moines
July 18, 2016
Since the lottery’s start in 1985, its players have won more than $3.9 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.7 billion for the state programs that benefit all Iowans.
Today, lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans and their families through the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund; help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund; and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.