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Posts tagged: idaho lottery

Idaho Lottery celebrates 25th year with record dividend to state of $49M

The Idaho Lottery celebrated its 25th year today by presenting a record dividend to the state of Idaho – the 11th straight year it’s set a record. This time, $49 million went to the state, to be divided between schools and the state’s Permanent Building Fund, which builds and maintains state buildings. That’s up $800,000 from last year’s profit. “The Idaho Lottery’s reputation for security and responsible play continues to remain unblemished,” said Jeff Anderson, state lottery director.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said the lottery’s success is a tribute to “the faith that the people in Idaho had in our ability to operate something as sensitive as a gaming operation – a lottery. What makes the lottery is the integrity. When they buy a ticket, there’s no monkey business with that. … They’ve got as good a chance (of winning) as anybody.” Otter noted that Idahoans were skeptical about the idea of a state lottery. “We had to go back twice to the people of Idaho,” he said, “and quite frankly, we won the lottery, and have won the lottery each and every year.”

Implementation of Idaho’s state lottery also opened the door to tribal gaming on the state’s Indian reservations, under federal law, and Otter said that’s overall been a win for the state as well, though he and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden recently filed an unsuccessful lawsuit attempting to block the Coeur d’Alene Tribe from opening a poker room at its North Idaho casino, and that dispute is ongoing.

Otter recalled when he chaired a gaming task force for then-Gov. Phil Batt and traveled the state, visiting all types of gaming operations, from tribal casinos to local race tracks. “We saw the proceeds from the tribal gaming actually being put to very good use, just like the use we put our lottery to,” Otter said, including investments in education, roads, water treatment and more. “Overall, I would say it has turned out to be a positive for the tribes,” he said, as well as “for those communities around the reservations.”

Mel Fisher, chairman of the state Lottery Commission, said the lottery’s sales have grown 50 percent in the past five years, and the dividend to the state’s schools and building fund has doubled in the past 10 years. On average over the past 25 years, the lottery has brought in more than $71,000 a day for the state, he noted.

The Idaho Lottery sold its first ticket in July of 1989; it was purchased by the late billionaire J.R. Simplot. This year’s dividend provides $30.625 million to schools, including $12.25 million for the bond levy equalization fund and $18.375 million for the state Department of Education’s building fund account. The Permanent Building Fund this year gets $18.375 million. Overall, dividends returned to the state from the lottery since its inception now total $649.5 million.

Idaho gets third $1 million Powerball winner in 3 weeks

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Lottery officials say a ticket sold in Bonneville County in southeastern Idaho has won $1 million in Wednesday's Powerball drawing. It is the third time in five drawings that a ticket sold in Idaho has won $1 million. Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson says the winning ticket matched the first five numbers, but not the Powerball. On July 10, Audrey and David Eckert of Boise won $1 million while a Salt Lake City-area man, Mike Middlemiss, and his son, Chris, won a $1 million prize in the July 13 drawing.

Otter welcomes 10th straight record dividend from state lottery

The Idaho Lottery presented its 10th straight record dividend to the state today, handing over $48.2 million from lottery proceeds for the state’s schools and state buildings for the year. “The weather isn’t the only thing that’s hot – your Idaho Lottery is sizzling, too,” said Lottery Director Jeff Anderson. “We just completed our best year in our 24-year history.” Plus, he said, the Lottery’s record “remains unblemished.” Gov. Butch Otter recalled 1989 and 1990, when Idaho voters first approved the lottery amid much controversy. “The biggest concern … was whether or not it would be able to maintain the honesty, the integrity and the value that was suggested in our efforts,” he said. “The citizens gave their trust. … How  proud I am… that integrity has never fallen into question.” He added, “I continue to hear great reports from other states about how well our lottery is operated.”

Checks presented at a ceremony in the governor’s office included $18.075 million each to the state Department of Education and state Permanent Building Fund, and $12.05 million to the bond levy equalization fund, which matches a portion of school districts’ bond repayment costs and marks the largest allocation yet to that fund, which last year got about $7 million. Otter credited current House Speaker Scott Bedke, who proposed the split for the bond fund as a lawmaker in 2009 before he was elected speaker. Said Otter, “I can tell you the folks at the local level utilize this in their financial planning.”

The Idaho Lottery recently saw two million-dollar winning Powerball tickets sold in the state in a week – a highly unusual series of back-to-back big winners. Said Anderson, “You’ve got to be in it to win it, and these folks were.” Otter noted that not only did the state sell tickets to two lucky winners, it also gets income tax on those winnings. That’s true for both the Idaho couple and the Utah resident who won the prizes; the Utahn must pay Idaho income tax on the income that comes from Idaho.

The Idaho Lottery still has 47 employees – the same number it had when it started in 1989. This year’s dividend to the state is 16.1 percent over last year’s, at nearly $7 million more. Otter told lottery officials and their staff, “From a grateful Idaho, thank you.”

Series of house raffles to bail out troubled school district canceled, after found to violate law

A plan to bail out the financially troubled Nampa School District through a series of house raffles has been suspended, after it turned out to be in violation of state gambling laws. Retired developer Phil Allaire planned to sell $100 raffle tickets for 40 Nampa homes he would buy and refurbish; he’d be reimbursed for his costs, and he estimated the school district could get $4.3 million in proceeds. Allaire had been working with the state Lottery on his plan, but the Lottery sent him a letter Tuesday saying his plan violated several state and federal laws.

Allaire, who’d already sold 47 tickets, said he’ll refund them. He criticized the Lottery’s “obstinate attitudes and positions,” and said he may sue. Among the problems the Lottery’s charitable gaming enforcement division identified in his plan: Since he was donating the homes to the non-profit that would run the lottery, state laws wouldn’t allow him to be reimbursed for his costs from the lottery’s proceeds; lottery ticket sales over the Internet violate state law; and no specific date was set for the drawing, which Allaire planned to hold whenever 2,500 tickets had been sold for the next house.

The Idaho Statesman has posted the Lottery’s letter here and Allaire’s announcement here; Idaho EdNews has a full report here, and the Statesman’s full report is here. KTVB-TV has a report here.

Powerball jackpot climbs to $600M, lines expected for ticket buyers

The Idaho Lottery is expecting lines of ticket-buyers into the weekend as the jackpot for Saturday night’s Powerball drawing hits a record $600 million. It’s the second-biggest jackpot on record, eclipsed only by the $646 million Mega Millions jackpot handed out in March of 2012. “We want to strongly emphasize to everyone to please play responsibly,” said Jeff Anderson, Idaho Lottery director. “Enjoy the games and imagine what you might do if you win, but please only play what you can afford.”

The Powerball tickets can be purchased until 7:55 p.m. Mountain time on Saturday; they cost $2 apiece. Lottery officials encourage ticket buyers to sign their tickets right away; lottery tickets are “bearer instruments,” so whoever signs and presents the winning ticket for payment will get paid.

The largest Powerball jackpot collected by an Idaho winner to date was $220,300 in May of 2005. Powerball is a multi-state game played in all but seven states.

Powerball jackpot up to $320 million, players have ‘til Saturday night…

The Powerball jackpot has hit $320 million, and players have until Saturday night to buy a ticket, according to the Idaho Lottery, which is reminding people to “play responsibly.” “Big Powerball jackpots are a lot of fun and we want to remind everyone that when they do play, to only spend what they can afford not to go overboard,” said Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson. “It does only take one ticket to win.” Click below for the Lottery’s full announcement.

It’s final: $1 million lottery ticket sold in Meridian left unclaimed

It's official: A Powerball lottery ticket worth $1 million has expired without its winner claiming the prize. The ticket-holder, who bought the winning ticket at a Maverik store at Locust Grove and McMillan in Meridian in June, never came forward by the deadline, which was Friday of last week. The Idaho Lottery announced today that the store still will get its $20,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, but the winnings will revert back to the Lottery's beneficiaries, the state's schools and permanent building fund, which builds and maintains state buildings. Click below for the full announcement from the Idaho Lottery, which includes a reminder to ticket-buyers to check their numbers.

Unclaimed $1 million Idaho Lottery prize about to expire…

Last summer, someone bought a lottery ticket in Meridian that won a $1 million prize - but they've never claimed it, and it's about to expire. The Idaho Lottery announced today that the Powerball ticket, which matched all five numbers but not the Powerball, will expire on Friday - and thereafter be worth nothing. The ticket was sold for the June 20, 2012 Powerball drawing. “Time is of the essence for the holder of the ticket to come forward and claim their $1 million prize,” said Jeff Anderson, Idaho Lottery director. “Due to state and federal processing requirements, at 3 p.m. Friday, December 14, 2012, if no one has brought the ticket in for validation, the ticket will expire and we will be unable to pay the claim.”

It wouldn't be the first time. A similar $1 million prize went unclaimed in 2010, and $200,000 prizes went unclaimed in 2008 and 2006. Unclaimed winnings go back to the Idaho Lottery's beneficiaries - the state's schools and its permanent building fund, which builds and maintains state buildings. Click below for the full announcement from the Idaho Lottery.

Boise woman claims $1 milion Powerball prize

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― A Boise woman who took a chance on winning the $597.5 million Powerball jackpot last week is thrilled with her $1 million runner-up prize. Susan Worthington appeared at a press conference announcing her win Tuesday at the Albertsons store in West Boise where she bought her ticket, which matched all the white balls, but not the Powerball. Worthington, a 63-year-old recent retiree, says her first big purchase was an $80 keyless entry remote for her car. She says she plans to spend some of the money to finish up the kitchen and do some landscaping at the house she just purchased after moving to Boise from Yakima, Wash., in January. Worthington says the winnings will allow her to retire comfortably. She says her 83-year-old mother urged her to buy the tickets. Click below for the Idaho Lottery's full announcement.

One Idaho ticket buyer won $1 million in Powerball, two others get $10K each

One Idaho Powerball lottery ticket buyer in Boise has won $1 million, Idaho Lottery officials say, and two other tickets, sold in Caldwell and Meridian, won $10,000 each. That's among the nearly 57,000 winning tickets sold in the state for the big $587.5 million Powerball jackpot, the AP reports; the two big winners who will split the jackpot are from Arizona and Missouri. Winners have 180 days to claim their prizes.

Winning $1 million required matching the first five numbers in the drawing; winning $10,000 required matching four of the first five and the Powerball number.

Caldwell fire chief wins $1 million prize in Idaho Lottery

The fire chief for the city of Caldwell has won $1 million in the Idaho Lottery, the lottery reported today; Mark Wendelsdorf and his wife Kim claimed the prize today. The fire chief plans to stay on the job; the couple will use their winnings to pay off debts, buy a few things and make investments. “When we wake up on Friday morning, we will be debt free,” Weldensdorf. Click below for the full announcement from the Idaho Lottery.

Idaho Lottery turns over record $41.5 million to state’s schools and public buildings

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― The Idaho Lottery is reporting another record year, posting more than $175 million in sales during the last fiscal year. Lottery officials on Tuesday also turned over $41.5 million to funds benefiting Idaho public schools and public buildings. That amount is the biggest since the lottery started in 1989 and the ninth consecutive year of record dividends. For fiscal year 2012, the lottery reported sales of $175.8 million, up 19.5 percent or $28 million compared to 2011 and the single biggest annual revenue jump in the lottery's history. The $41.5 million dividend is double the $20.5 million payout in 2003. The dividend is being split among three separate accounts ― the Department of Education's public school building account and the state building fund, and a fund that helps match school bond payments.

Click below for the Lottery's full announcement.

Idaho Lottery taking its marketing services contract out to bid

The Idaho Lottery has announced it's going to bid on its contract for marketing services, a $600,000 a year contract that since 2009 has been held by the Boise firm DaviesMoore. “Our prudent examination of how we operate the Lottery, and taking our advertising and marketing services contracts out for public bid, are in no way a reflection on the performance and contributions made by DaviesMoore,” said Lottery Director Jeff Anderson. “With a contract of this size and importance we believe it is our responsibility to do due diligence and examine the opportunities this may present.” Click below for the Lottery's full announcement; the contract expires Dec. 31, and firms interested in bidding have until Aug. 15.

Nearly one in five Idaho Lottery tickets are sold to Utah residents

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Nearly one-fifth of Idaho's traditional lottery ticket revenues come from sales to Utah residents, who trek across the border from the state that outlaws all forms of gambling. The Salt Lake Tribune reports ( an analysis of Idaho Lottery Commission financial data from 2011 shows 19.4 percent of lottery ticket sales came from sites on the Utah border. The owners of those stores say the overwhelming majority of those sales come from Utahns. Alexis Daniels, manager of the Top Stop Chevron in Malad, Idaho, says 99 percent of its lottery tickets are sold to Utahns. Top Stop is the top-selling lottery store in Idaho — especially busy amid high-jackpot drawings like the $640 million Mega Millions record set last week. Utahns play scratcher and pull tab games far less often.

Lahti opts for lump sum for her Mega Millions lottery prize

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Lottery officials say a 29-year-old northern Idaho woman has decided to collect her half of a $380 million Mega Millions jackpot in a lump sum payment. The Idaho Lottery announced Friday that Holly Lahti, from the small town of Rathdrum, had elected to take the $120 million lump sum instead of collecting her cash in annual payments over 25 years. The federal government would take $30 million in taxes, while the Idaho State Tax Commission would take a $9.3 million slice, leaving Lahti with about $80.6 million. Lahti, a mother of two, is splitting the second-largest lottery jackpot in history with Jim and Carolyn McCullar of Ephrata, Wash.

Idahoans hit lottery jackpot

One of two $190 million winning tickets in the Mega Millions Lottery was sold in Post Falls, Idaho lottery officials announced today, splitting the big $380 million jackpot with a winner in Ephrata, Wash. The two big winners have not yet stepped forward - they have 180 days to do so. “With large winners like this, people don’t pop in the next day,” said Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson. “They have things to take care of.”

However, one smaller winner already has been named - Kevin Anderson of Melba, Idaho matched all five numbers but but not the mega-ball, and won a $250,000 prize. “I was a little disappointed when I didn’t get the mega-ball, but then I was like, ‘But I matched five,’” the construction superintendent said. “We were dancing around.” He said, “It made going to work so much easier today. I told my boss, if it’d been one more number, you would’ve gotten my resignation.” You can read my full story here at

Otter on state lottery sales increase: ‘Purest form of voluntary taxation’

Idaho’s state lottery has set a seventh consecutive record for the dividend it turns over to the state this year, handing over $36.5 million in lottery profits to the state’s schools and the permanent building fund.  It marked the third consecutive year that Idaho Lottery sales have increased. Asked why he thinks lottery sales have continued to increase despite the economic downturn, Gov. Butch Otter said, “It’s probably the purest form of voluntary taxation. I think people want to support the school system, but they also want to win some money.” And in tough times, winning money may seem more attractive, he said.

“We’ve been very fortunate in Idaho … maintaining the integrity and the honesty of our lottery system,” Otter said. “We’ve not seen at least a lot of the predicted gaming addictions. We’re very watchful for those.” He noted that he endorsed the concept of a state lottery back in 1986 when he was running for lieutenant governor. “I felt at the time, if people want do to it, they ought to be free to buy a lottery ticket,” Otter said. This year’s dividend is split with $17 million each going to schools and the permanent building fund, and $2.5 million going to the school bond levy equalization fund. Here, Otter and state officials hold a giant check for the permanent building fund portion.

Otter praises lottery’s ‘self-taxation’

Gov. Butch Otter today approvingly called the Idaho Lottery “probably the clearest form of self-taxation that we have in the state.” Here’s a link to the governor talking about how much the lottery has raised for schools and state buildings in Idaho in the past 20 years, how much the state needs money right now, and how “we appreciate the people taxing themselves, voluntarily, through the lottery.” When Idaho’s state lottery commission chairman, Roger Jones, made ready to present this year’s check to Otter on Tuesday, he said amid some laughter, “We’re able to give another million dollars more than last year. … Maybe it’s all spent, Butch, I don’t know.”

Winner: ‘A couple of bucks for some hope’

When Eye on Boise asked him why he thinks Idahoans are still buying lottery tickets despite the downturn, Idaho’s biggest-ever lottery winner, Brad Duke, who won $220.3 million in a Powerball drawing in 2005, said, “There’s always the chance, there’s always the hope. I suppose for some people, that goes a long ways - to invest a couple of bucks for some hope might give ‘em a little relief.” Duke, 37, said he still plays the lottery from time to time. “It’s always been a hobby of mine - I like numbers games,” he said.

Since his big win, he’s gone from manager of a local Gold’s Gym to owner of a consulting firm that travels around the country and helps people run their gyms. He’s also done some traveling to indulge his hobby of downhill mountain biking, in which he competes, and he’s set up a family foundation that’s given more than $100,000 to charities including the Children’s Home, Project Patch, Hope House, the American Diabetes Association and the LiveStrong Foundation. Duke, who still lives in the same Star, Idaho home as before his big win, said the philanthropy was the most rewarding part. He told state and lottery officials, “Thanks for making it possible for Idaho people to win big money.”

Idaho lottery profits up despite downturn

Though the economic times are grim, there’s one way Idaho’s still making money: By chance. Idaho’s state lottery announced today that its revenues for the recently concluded fiscal year set a record for the seventh time in eight years, coming in 2 percent over last year. That bucks a national trend that has many states seeing lower lottery proceeds this year, including Washington, where lottery proceeds were down 6 percent. “The principal reason is this is a low-cost form of entertainment for the people who play - I mean, it’s only a dollar,” said Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson. “We know that people are cutting back on their expenditures for a lot of things.” Idaho’s state lottery also celebrated its 20-year anniversary today, with free hot dogs and birthday cake for anyone who showed up to a celebration across from the state Capitol in downtown Boise.

Anderson said the Idaho lottery sold its first ticket in 1989 to billionaire J.R. Simplot; that ticket didn’t win. Idaho’s lottery proceeds are split evenly between public schools and the state’s permanent building fund, which maintains state buildings; you can read my full story here at

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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