Iowa Lottery sales on record pace

$314.8 million in gross sales through May topped yearly totals of $286.6 million in fiscal 2012

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DES MOINES – Fiscal 2013 is turning out to be a jackpot year for the Iowa Lottery.

The state-run gambling enterprise already has posted a record $314.8 million in gross sales through May with one month remaining in the fiscal year, lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said Monday. The prize payout also has hit a record $186 million for lottery players and state profits to the general fund already have topped $80.4 million for the first time ever with June proceeds yet to be reported.

“It’s been a very, very good year,” Neubauer said. “It’s like all the lottery stars appear to have aligned this year.”

Eye-popping Powerball jackpots, robust scratch ticket sales and an improved Iowa economy have combined to push lottery sales to $50 million above budgeted projections through 11 months, she said. The $314.8 million in gross sales through May topped yearly totals of $286.6 million in fiscal 2012 and $249 million the previous fiscal year.

Raising the price for a Powerball ticket to $2 and building larger jackpots quicker paid dividends last month when the top prize won by a Florida player hit $590.5 million – a game-record jackpot that enticed Iowans to invest more than $5.1 million in that single drawing.

The May 18 jackpot topped a previous record $587.5 million Powerball drawing held last Nov. 28 that produced winners in Missouri and Arizona. Also, a $338.3 million jackpot drawing on March 23 was won by a Powerball player in New Jersey and a $337 million jackpot up for grabs last Aug. 15 went to a winning Michigan ticket – events that combined for record Powerball sales in Iowa that already have topped $77 million through May.

Last fiscal year Powerball ticket sales in Iowa totaled $52.6 million while scratch tickets – what Neubauer called the lottery’s “work horse” products – totaled $174.4 million in sales compared to the $816.6 million already rung up this year with one month left in the fiscal year.

“Instant scratch sales just continue to be really, really strong here in Iowa,” she said.

Neubauer said the strong performance this fiscal year is welcome news but makes lottery officials a little apprehensive about maintaining this pace in future years.

“It makes us a little nervous long term because this was an incredible year as far as just a lot of things coming together to produce some really good numbers for the lottery,” she said. “We don’t anticipate that things are going to slow down in the next 12 to 18 months. We’re continuing to anticipate strong numbers.”

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