Iowa lottery sales slow, but still top $6 billion in 2014

Proceeds, prizes among top four all-time for state

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DES MOINES — Fewer cases of jackpot fever and a hard Midwest winter slowed lottery sales in fiscal 2014, but the state enterprise still managed to top the $300 million mark for the third straight year, officials with the Iowa Lottery said Tuesday.

Lottery ticket sales came in at just over $314 million in the 12-month period that ended June 30, a $25 million drop from the previous year's record, but a total that pushed overall sales of lottery products over the $6 billion mark since the state-run gambling operation began 29 years ago.

The preliminary figures released Tuesday also showed that lottery proceeds to the state treasury totaled nearly $74 million, the fourth-highest amount in the lottery's 29-year history but down from nearly $85 million the previous year. Likewise, prizes paid to lottery players totaled $186.9 million — the second-highest total in the lottery's history but down from $200.8 million in fiscal 2013.

Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said the lottery's fiscal 2014 sales, proceeds to state causes and prizes to players all ranked among the agency's all-time top four best.

“The lottery is in a healthy position, with its products continuing to serve as an affordable, local entertainment option,” Rich said in a statement. “There is no doubt, however, that weather conditions were a challenge this year. The 'chance element' also came into play in terms of the number of big jackpots we saw.”

Repeated blizzards and frigid temperatures impeded travel and outdoor activities during Iowa's past winter, which definitely impacted lottery sales, Rich noted.

Also, he said fiscal 2013 results were aided by strong Powerball sales -- with the game's jackpot topping the $300 million mark on four different occasions during that year. Fiscal 2014 saw the Powerball jackpot top that mark only three times, which impacted the popular product's overall sales in Iowa.

“Statistically, we know that our results will fluctuate from year to year, but we anticipate that lottery games will continue to be a consistent, key source of proceeds for vital state causes here in Iowa,” Rich said.

The lottery's combined sales from its core products of lotto, instant-scratch and pull-tab games were down 7.4 percent from the previous year's record total of $339.3 million. Sales of instant-scratch tickets were down 6.7 percent for the year to $188.8 million.

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