Profits from the Idaho State Lottery slipped marginally to $19.5 million during the fiscal year that ended Monday, marking the first decline since 1992.
Sales slipped from $93 million during the 1996 fiscal year to just under $88 million this past year, pushing profits down $500,000.
“Basically it’s a function of one thing - Powerball jackpots,” Lottery Director Dennis Jackson said on Monday.
“All of our sales are driven by Powerball jackpots and this year we had jackpots on average 18 percent lower than the year before.
“We were running even farther behind than that but we got lucky in the last quarter and had a $51 million jackpot,” Jackson said.
The modest decline broke a string of three straight record dividend performances for the Lottery, which began operating in mid-July 1989 after voters endorsed the games in statewide balloting in both 1986 and 1988.
But Batt administration analysts are projecting profits to rebound in the coming year to a record $21 million.
The $19.5 million will be split evenly between public school building construction and maintenance and state building construction. Last year, lottery money went to projects like a new school building site in Post Falls, a new computer lab in American Falls, a new roof for Meridian’s Ridgewood Elementary and for boiler repairs in Jefferson County.
Since the games began, ticket sales have totaled nearly $570 million and profit for state and school buildings has been nearly $137 million.
“The Lottery was never intended to be a primary source of funding,” Jackson said. “However, the funds transferred enable our state to provide our citizens with necessary facilities and building renovations that would otherwise have to come from another source.”
For the state construction fund, Lottery proceeds have become exceedingly important, providing in recent years a third or more of the annual revenue.
Any cash over that for public works has to come from increasingly scarce general tax receipts.
The scramble for cash became so intense last winter that state lawmakers approved state income tax on lottery winnings over $600 beginning in January despite warnings from Lottery officials that it would further erode player support.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.