DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Lottery sales rose over the past 12 months, although profits dipped slightly amid a surge of lucky prize winners.
Preliminary figures released Tuesday show sales totaled $256.3 million for the state budget year ending June 30, up about 5 percent from a year earlier. Lottery proceeds, spent on state government programs, totaled $57.9 million, down about 4 percent from a year ago.
Iowa Lottery Chief Executive Terry Rich said two key factors reduced lottery profits. One is that prize payouts, which are cyclical and even out statistically over time, were ahead of projections. Compared with the previous year, the Iowa Lottery returned an additional $12.1 million prizes directly to players.
"Right now, we sure seem to have a lot of winners," Rich said.
Over the last 12 months, those fortunate players included seven $1 million prizes, compared with just two winners of $1 million payouts the previous year.
Secondly, the Iowa Lottery accrued expenses totaling about $1.5 million related to the state's early retirement program, Rich said. About 20 lottery employees recently retired, and accounting standards required that all expenses for the program be recorded during the recently concluded state budget year.
Despite the downturn in profits, Rich said, the lottery had its second-best year ever in generating sales revenue. The best year was in 2006, when the Iowa Lottery operated its ill-fated TouchPlay games, which resembled slot machines. The Iowa Legislature pulled the plug on TouchPlay amid controversies that arose.
One highlight of the fiscal year was the addition of the Mega Millions multistate jackpot game in January. The game added $5.5 million to lottery sales, while Powerball sales in Iowa increased to $59.2 million, up nearly 2 percent from a year earlier.
Instant-scratch tickets, a traditional favorite among players, were the biggest generator of sales over the past fiscal year. Scratch tickets brought in $143.7 million, while Powerball was second. Hot Lotto sales were third, at $13.6 million.