BOISE – Idaho’s state lottery collected $48.5 million in profits for the state on Thursday, with the majority of that headed to the state’s public schools.
The figure was down from last year’s record $49.5 million dividend, but still was $500,000 above forecasts. That’s because last year’s profits were boosted by the tremendous attention – and sales – generated by an unprecedented $1.5 billion multi-state Powerball jackpot. Idaho’s earnings were forecast to drop this year compared to that record, but state Lottery Director Jeff Anderson said overall sales actually increased.
“Our scratch games led the way, and our pull-tab games,” he said. However, those aren’t as profitable as the lucrative multi-state draw games, accounting for the drop in the dividend.
From the lottery profits, Idaho’s state Department of Education gets $30.3 million, which is split between $18.2 million for distribution to school districts and $12.1 million for the state’s Bond Levy Equalization Fund, which matches a portion of needy school districts’ costs to repay school bonds.
The remaining $18.2 million goes to the state’s Permanent Building Fund for maintenance and construction of state buildings.
Anderson said since 1989, the Idaho Lottery has turned about $800 million in profits to Idaho’s public schools and state building fund.
Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who accepted the check from the lottery and, in turn, presented oversized checks to state schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and state Public Works Director Jan Frew, said, “Twenty-eight years ago when the lottery was passed, I don’t recall anyone talking about $800 million dollars, so congratulations. … That’s quite a number.”
Little said, “People realize they’re not only having fun, but they’re investing in the children of Idaho. I think that’s great.”
Anderson added, “It comes from the willing, not the coerced.”
Compared to the previous year, the lottery’s earnings from Powerball and MegaMillions, its other big-jackpot multi-state lottery game, and other number-draw games, were down by $15 million. But sales from scratch tickets and pull-tab games made up for the decline. Scratch ticket sales were up nearly $12 million over the previous year, while pull-tab receipts were up $6.9 million.
Total sales in fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30, came to $239.9 million, up from $236.1 million the year before.
Lottery earnings originally were split 50-50 between schools and the state building fund. That balance was altered by state lawmakers when they created the Bond Levy Equalization Fund. Now, 25 percent of the lottery profits go to the bond levy fund, and the remainder is split equally between school districts and the building fund.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.