The Missouri Lottery celebrates its 20th birthday this month by giving Missourians a six-digit birthday present.
Tickets went on sale Monday for the special "Dream Draw" raffle game that runs through Feb. 23. Weekly tax prepaid prizes of $20,000 will be awarded, along with a tax-free grand prize of $200,000. The $2 game also offers a number of $20 instant winners.
The state lottery has come a long way since January 1986, when the first scratch-off game, "Jackpot '86," was introduced.
Since then, $8.5 billion in total sales has generated $4.8 billion in player prizes and $2.5 billion for public education and other state purposes.
"Our goal has always been to raise money for the state and public education," said lottery director Larry Jansen. "It's the reason the lottery exists."
Here are a few lottery facts and history:
- The prize money pool has grown to an average of 61.6 percent of total sales. In 1986 the prize pool was limited to 45 percent.
- The Missouri Lottery consumes about 5 percent of sales for operations expense. That's down from 14 percent in 1986.
- In 1986 a winning scratch-off ticket could only be redeemed by its original retail seller.
- The biggest lottery jackpot in 1986 was $5.2 million. The new record is $340 million.
- Since 1986, the Missouri Lottery has created 206 millionaires.
That's the good news.
On the downside, Sue Self, administrator of Missouri's 1-888-BETSOFF (238-7633) hotline for troubled gamblers, warns that lottery games can become addictive, too.
"Most of the lottery calls we get are about scratch-off tickets," she said. "People will spend their whole paycheck on them and stand at the convenience store counter for an hour scratching."
Of the estimated 2,600 calls to the gambling hotline in 2005, Self said, 186 involved state lottery games.
Unlike self-banning options available to casino players, Self said, "one of the challenges for lottery players is that there's no way for them to ban themselves."
That could change.
The Iowa Lottery made news late last year when it announced the nation's first self-exclusion procedure for addicted players. Players that opt into the program agree to forfeit any big-cash prizes that require identification for tax purposes.
Melissa R. Stephens, problem gambling programs administrator of the Missouri Gaming Commission, applauds any effort to help those in need.
But she's skeptical of the pioneering Iowa program.
"We've talked about this in the past," she said. "Its effectiveness is very problematic. It doesn't exclude them from purchasing a ticket. It just excludes them from redeeming their winning tickets."
Stephens said that hurdle could be too easily cleared by collaborating with someone to redeem a big winner.
Kansas Lottery Also Nears Milestone
The Kansas Lottery is almost 20 years old.
Voters approved the games in November 1986, and sales started about 6 months later.
These days Kansas is getting lots of public relations mileage from its laudable "Made in Kansas" game series that features prizes with a Sunflower State twist.
A Topeka nurse recently won a 2006 Malibu LTZ built at the General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kan.
The Lottery will give away a Malibu MAXX in a "second-chance" drawing for losing ticket holders on March 24. Details are on the back of each "Made in Kansas" game ticket, or on www.kslottery.com.
Meanwhile, tickets go on sale Thursday for the Lottery's "$200 Grand" instant game that will award 45 players and their guests race packages at Kansas Speedway.
Other current or upcoming "Made in Kansas"-themed games and products: Wichita-made Big Dog Motorcycles; RangeRunner all-terrain vehicles made by TerraTrack in Clay Center; the U.S. Senior Open to be played this summer at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson; a flexible-fuel GMC Sierra E85 is the prize in a game promoting ethanol production.