FAQs

Miscellaneous FAQs

How many people are employed by the lottery? Are they able to play the lottery?

There are 113 lottery employees. Many of the employees are in sales and they call on the lottery's 2,400 retailers statewide. Lottery employees cannot play or win prizes on any Iowa Lottery product.

Who comes up with the ideas for new lottery games?

The Iowa Lottery uses a number of sources for new games including players, retailers and staff. The Iowa Lottery also closely monitors games put out by other lotteries around the country. An ad agency is contracted to help write and produce television and radio spots, but most of the game development is done internally.

Who makes the rules on how much money a player wins for picking two, three, four or five numbers correctly?

The Iowa Lottery sets the prize structure for Iowa's Pick 3 and Pick 4 games. With Powerball, Mega Millions, Hot Lotto and All or Nothing, the prize structure is set by the lotteries that are members of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) since multiple states participate in the game.

What about the argument that, "no one from here ever wins/"

That seems to be a myth that's based upon the area you're from, no matter where that is. Here's an example: We were talking one day with the folks from the D.C. Lottery in Washington and we were telling them about the grumbling we'll sometimes hear that "no one from here ever wins." They started laughing and said what they hear is that "it's always those people from Iowa who win the jackpot." We think the root of the situation is that people will never be truly satisfied unless they're the ones who win the jackpot! In reality, people can and do win lottery prizes every day. In the Iowa Lottery's latest financial year, its players took home more than $150 million in prizes from lotto, scratch and pull-tab tickets. That's a record amount. And nine Iowa Lottery players won prizes of $1 million during the 2010 fiscal year.

What about the argument that only poor people play the Lottery?

Let's look at that by the numbers. Iowa Lottery players bought more than $256 million in lottery tickets in the latest financial year. It simply doesn't hold that if only poor people play the lottery, they had more than $256 million to spend. It also doesn't make sense from a business-model perspective -- you simply wouldn't develop a plan around a customer base that can't afford your product. The reality is that Iowa Lottery players are from a broad cross-section of society. They're male and female, young and old, from urban and rural areas. They choose to spend some of their entertainment dollars playing the lottery, just like they choose to spend some of those dollars going to the movies, dining out and attending concerts.

What about people who say that only players from big cities win?

It's our job at the Iowa Lottery to have integrity in our games and ensure that winners are determined by nothing other than pure, random chance. You want to know when you play the lottery that you have the same fair chance of winning as anyone else. Now, it is true that more people live in bigger cities, which means more people are buying lottery tickets there and winning prizes. Another way of putting that is that if 5 percent of lottery tickets are sold in a particular area, you expect to find about 5 percent of the overall winners there, and that's been the case with the Iowa Lottery. Everyone has the same chance of winning but there will be more winners in places where more tickets are being sold.

What about people who are addicted to gambling?

That's an issue we take very seriously at the Iowa Lottery, and we have a strong track record in that regard. Only about 4-6 percent of those admitted to treatment through the Iowa Gambling Treatment Program say the lottery was their primary form of wagering. We're working hard to make sure people understand that help is available for those who have a gambling problem or are concerned about the effects that gambling may have on a loved one. The Iowa Gambling Treatment Program provides treatment, counseling and outreach programs for those concerned about gambling. It also runs the 1-800-BETSOFF helpline that's available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Iowa Lottery is committed to responsible play. Each year, the lottery provides information about 1-800-BETSOFF in millions of ways. The lottery includes messages about the helpline on its tickets, brochures and point-of-sale materials and also includes that information in its publications. The lottery also provided more than $15.7 million to the Iowa Gambling Treatment Fund through the years.