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Idaho hits another lottery jackpot

BOISE – The Idaho Lottery on Tuesday reported its biggest profit payout to the state yet, at $37 million.

Despite the economic downturn, it was the eighth consecutive record year for proceeds from the state lottery, which are split between Idaho’s public schools and a fund that maintains state buildings.

This year’s “dividend,” or profit turned back over to the state, was up from last year’s $36.5 million and the previous year’s $35 million. In the fiscal year that closed July 1, the Idaho Lottery had $147.2 million in sales and also saw Idahoans win seven high-profile jackpots of more than $1 million, including multi-state games in which the Idaho Lottery participates.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter welcomed the payout, saying, “Every dollar that the lottery contributes is a dollar less that comes out of taxpayers’ pockets.”

The Idaho Lottery started in 1989, with its proceeds designated to be split evenly between the state Department of Education’s public school building account and the state building fund.

In 2009, state lawmakers enacted a temporary, five-year shift, sending a portion of the proceeds above the 2008 level to the state’s school bond levy equalization fund, to help match local school bond payments. This year, that fund will get $3 million.

Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson called the just-ended fiscal year a “banner year” for the lottery and its players.

The annual return to the state started at $17.2 million in fiscal year 1990 and went up and down before hitting $25 million in fiscal year 2004, and then rising steadily from then on.

Also in the past year, Idaho retailers earned record commissions of $8.9 million on lottery ticket sales.

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