July 19, 1989|
29 years ago
The Idaho Lottery, which began on July 19, 1989, is run by the government of Idaho. It is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). Fifty percent of all net funds is given to public schools, while the remainder is pledged to the Permanent Building Fund, which is used as a financial resource for the state's colleges and universities.
The Idaho Lottery offers the multi-state drawing games Mega Millions, Powerball, Hot Lotto, and Wild Card (all but Mega Millions are directly run by MUSL); and a daily game, Idaho Pick 3. Drawings for Pick 3 are nightly, including Sundays; Hot Lotto, Wild Card, and Powerball are Wednesdays and Saturdays, while Mega Millions is drawn Tuesday and Fridays. The minimum age to play the Idaho Lottery is 18.
The Lottery also offers approximately 50 instant Scratch GamesTM yearly. Price points range from $1 to $25. PullTabs are offered in social settings, such as restaurants, bars, and bowling centers; its price points are 25 cents to $1.00
The state lottery initiative was approved by voters in November 1986, but was declared unconstitutional the following March by district judge Gerald Schroeder,  a future chief justice of the state supreme court. His decision was upheld 4–1 by the state supreme court,  and resulted in an amendment to the state constitution. Voters approved that in November 1988,    and a mere 200 days later, a lottery industry record at the time,[ citation needed] the Idaho Lottery began on July 19, 1989. 
Since its beginning, the Lottery has sold more than $1.8 billion in tickets and returned more than $437.3 million to Idaho public schools and buildings.
Idaho Bingo is drawn Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7:59pm Mountain Time. Games are $5 each. Each drawing consists of 30 numbers 01 through 75. Top prize is $100,000; it is won by matching the eight numbers forming a "diamond" and the four numbers on each side of the "free space".)
Idaho Pick 3 is drawn twice a day, seven days a week. Play styles and prizes vary.
Weekly Grand is drawn twice a week. Games are $2 each; the top prize is $1000 a week for a year, taxes paid; however, there is no cash option. Non-winning tickets can be entered in a monthly draw for $100 a week, also without a cash option. The "second chance" drawings have become controversial for a second reason; if a potential winner is disqualified, the $100-per-week prize is not paid.
Weekly Grand is a rare example of a pick-5 game with an annuitized prize, as well as an increasingly rare example of any lottery game without a cash option. (A game with a similar top prize was available in Arizona's Weekly Winnings; however, it had a cash option of $52,000 "taxes paid" in lieu of the weekly payments.)
Lotto America (a different version than offered from 1988 to 1992) replaced the multi-state Hot Lotto in October 2017. (Hot Lotto was unrelated to an Idaho-only game by that name.) Lotto America is available in 13 states, including Idaho.
Lucky for Life, which began as a Connecticut-only game in 2009 called Lucky4Life, became a regional game three years later. A later version, which began in 2013, added a cash option for its top prize ($1000-per-day-for-life) and a second-prize "lifetime" tier of $25,000-per-year. Both "lifetime" prizes offer a cash option (Weekly Grand, see above, does not offer a cash option for its top prize.)
On January 27, 2015, Lucky for Life added eight states, including Idaho. The game was modified to its current double matrix (5 of 48 white balls, and 1 of 18 green "Lucky Balls"); Ten states plus the District of Columbia have joined in addition (25 lotteries as of June 2018.)
On January 31, 2010, Mega Millions and Powerball became available to lotteries which previously offered either game. Idaho joined Mega Millions on the above date, as part of the games' cross-sell expansion. Mega Millions is drawn Tuesdays and Fridays; its games are $2 each, or $3 with the Megaplier option. Mega Millions' minimum jackpot is $40 million, paid in 30 graduated yearly installments unless the cash option is chosen.
Mega Millions is offered in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Idaho has been a member of MUSL since 1990. Powerball began in 1992; its cash option began in 1997, and Power Play was added in 2001. The current version of Powerball began on January 15, 2012. Games are $2 each, or $3 with Power Play. The game is drawn Wednesdays and Saturdays; Powerball jackpots begin at $40 million.
In FY 2009, the Idaho Lottery set a sales record on the way to grossing nearly $140 million. It also set a dividend record by returning a profit of $35 million to the people of Idaho, the sixth consecutive year for returning a record dividend. Players won a record $84.9 million in prizes, and retailers received a record $8.3 million in commissions. 
FY 2009 sales by product were:
|Game||Revenues ( $)|
|Idaho Pick 3||1,883,839|
|Double Play Daily||360,806|
|Idaho $1,000,000 Raffle||2,500,000|
|Instant Scratch Tickets||88,425,049|
The largest share of Idaho Lottery dollars is returned to players in the form of prizes. This amount in FY 2009 was approximately 60%. The next largest share of revenue is the annual dividend, which by statute is split equally between Idaho’s public schools and permanent buildings, including college campuses. Approximately 25% of all Idaho Lottery revenue was returned to the people of Idaho in FY 2009. The approximately 900 Idaho Lottery retailers received 6% of all revenue while game support utilizes 4%, administration costs were 3% and the smallest portion, 2%, was used for advertising.
The Idaho Lottery changed the on-line provider to INTRALOT, USA in February 2007. This required the installation of satellites and terminals across Idaho. The new terminals and software capabilities allow the Lottery to perform specialized and unique game promotions.
The Lottery also changed its instant ticket vendor to Scientific Games, Inc. in July 2007. This combination of companies has allowed the Lottery to offer unique game promotions where players have the opportunity to enter second-chance draws through either the internet or via tele-entry using a regular touch-tone telephone.
In July 2007, the Lottery debuted a North American industry first when it offered their VIP Club members the opportunity to earn rewards for making game purchases (excluding instant tickets.) For each $1 spent on Powerball, Mega Millions, Double Play Daily, Hot Lotto, Wild Card, Pick 3, and/or Raffle tickets, players receive one point. Points may be redeemed through the Lottery’s VIP Club website for merchandise, including iPods, DVD players, bicycles, and watches.
In August 2008, the Lottery offered another North American first – the ability for players to donate part of their winnings from scratch tickets to an international non-profit organization. The Lottery offered a $1 ScratchTM game to help financially support the 2009 Special Olympic World Winter Games to be held in Idaho that February. Using creative game technology, winning players were asked to donate 25%, 50% or 100% of their win to support the international event.
The unofficial mascot of the Idaho Lottery is "BALL", a large, life-sized symbol of the red Powerball. "BALL" boasts a circumference of 132 inches and made its debut in television commercials in 2006. The Powerball commercials featuring "BALL" won critical acclaim from the Northwest Addy Awards with a Best of Show Award. The commercial campaign depicted "BALL" being so huge it could not fit through revolving doors, into elevators, or up escalators. More recently, "BALL" made appearances at special events and community venues such as collegiate and professional sporting events.
- "Judge says lottery unconstitutional". Spokane Chronicle. Washington. March 27, 1987. p. 3.
- "Lottery initiative declared illegal". Idahonian. Moscow. Associated Press. June 7, 1988. p. 1A.
- "Idaho lottery passes". Spokane Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. November 9, 1988. p. A1.
- "Andrus seeks help to begin lottery". Idahonian. Moscow. Associated Press. November 11, 1988. p. 1A.
- "Idaho's lottery startup growing near". Spokane Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. June 9, 1989. p. B8.
- "Idaho lottery a big hit on its first day". Idahonian. Moscow. Associated Press. July 20, 1989. p. 10A.
- "Where the money goes". Idaho Lottery. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-09-19.