IOWA LEGISLATURE

Despite coronavirus slowdown, Iowa Lottery to surpass revenue expectations

A Powerball ticket is printed at the Wilson Avenue HyVee in Cedar Rapids in 2015.  (The Gazette)
A Powerball ticket is printed at the Wilson Avenue HyVee in Cedar Rapids in 2015. (The Gazette)

They won’t top the record-setting numbers from a year ago, but Iowa Lottery Authority revenues will exceed projections for the fiscal year ending June 30 despite a coronavirus-related slowdown in sales.

Lottery game sales increased by $15.4 million and proceeds grew by $6.3 million, Lottery officials told the board Tuesday. Prizes were $19.4 million ahead of budget.

Through the first three quarters of fiscal 2020, lottery sales were running 1.8 percent ahead of the record pace in fiscal 2019, but in March were nearly $2 million short of the budgeted expectation of $30.9 million.

Since then, lottery game sales seem to have stabilized, CEO Matt Strawn told the board.

With one week remaining in the fiscal year, Strawn said, Iowa Lottery will meet and exceed budgeted and projected numbers for gross sales and revenue transfers to the state.

Gross sales were budgeted to be $346.5 million. At the end of May, they were $335 million.

Total proceeds were budgeted to be $72 million, but were $73 million at the end of the last full month.

And prizes, which were budgeted at $209.9 million, were running at $213 million at the end of May.

While the numbers may not look as impressive as those posted last year, Strawn said he was proud of the Lottery team’s accomplishments in a year that started with challenges to the national lotto draw games and is ending with a public health emergency.

Last fiscal year’s record sales of $390.9 million were fueled in part by major jackpots in both Powerball and Mega Millions.

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The Mega Millions jackpot grew to $1.54 billion until a winning ticket was bought Oct. 23, 2018, in South Carolina.

Powerball saw a jackpot run up to $768.4 million, before it was claimed in Wisconsin on March 27, 2019.

Overall, the Iowa Lottery generated a record $92.8 million in proceeds for the state and $241.9 million in prizes. Sales commissions to Lottery retailers totaled $25.4 million, also a record.

Last year was an “extraordinary year,” Chairwoman Mary Junge of Cedar Rapids said. “But I think we really should be happy with the results.”

The board also elected new leadership for fiscal 2021. Sherrae Hanson of Ankeny, a tax manager, and John Quinn of Urbandale, the Waukee police chief, will serve as chair and vice chair.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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