Switch To New System Brings Added Convenience, More Options To Players, Retailers
DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa's lottery is getting an upgrade.
The machines that print and cash lottery tickets and the look of lotto tickets themselves are being updated as the Iowa Lottery transitions to a new statewide computerized gaming system. Full conversion to the new system should be complete in July.
As the new system goes in, the familiar red lottery terminals that have been in use for the past decade in Iowa are being replaced with new, smaller terminals. Two other features sure to get attention are self-checkers that lottery players can use to check their own tickets and lighted signs that will automatically update the latest big jackpot amounts in Powerball® and Mega Millions®.
Lottery CEO Terry Rich emphasized that while the upgraded equipment will bring a new look and feel to Iowa's lottery, the games its customers play will remain the same.
"We're excited to bring our players and retailers a state-of-the-art system," Rich said. "It gives us new capabilities while at the same time providing the reliability and security players have always expected from the Iowa Lottery.”
Since the Iowa Lottery's start in 1985, each generation of equipment used to sell and cash lottery tickets has been in use for about a decade. The current lottery equipment in Iowa has been in place since 2001 and the lottery’s contract for it expires this summer.
The lottery received proposals last year from companies interested in operating the statewide gaming system that's used to sell lotto tickets and cash and validate all lottery tickets at about 2,500 retail locations. In September, the Iowa Lottery Board accepted the recommendation of a proposal from a Georgia-based company.
Scientific Games International of Alpharetta, Ga., also supplies the lottery's current equipment, so the changeover is allowing the old lottery terminals to be removed from retail locations as the new equipment is being installed. The statewide roll-out began this month and the entire new system is scheduled to become operational in July. It is anticipated that the new equipment will be in use in Iowa for seven to 10 years.
While consumers will notice new machines at the store level, the lottery system also includes cellular and satellite communications to provide a statewide link and a centralized datacenter to run it all.
Rich said it's a huge undertaking, but like any electronic equipment, lottery systems need to be replaced over time.
"Each time we've updated our system here in Iowa, we've concentrated on equipment that's easier for retailers to use while also providing faster service and more convenience for customers," Rich said.
The new lottery terminals feature touch-screen technology and thermal printers that use heat instead of ink to print lotto tickets on a new style of paper, so the tickets in games like Powerball will look a little different here in Iowa than they have in the past. Customers also will notice flat-screen monitors in many locations that will display jackpot information and game details at the point of sale.
Self-checkers will be installed away from the cash registers in a lot of retail locations, allowing lottery customers to check their own tickets rather than having store personnel check them. Early on, the self-checkers will only read lotto tickets, but once the entire new system goes live in July, customers also will be able to check instant-scratch tickets on the devices.
New lighted jackpot signs will be installed in the windows of many stores, allowing customers to see the latest Powerball and Mega Millions jackpot amounts while they're still outside. The lottery also will update its player loyalty program as part of the conversion. That program, called the VIP Club, is getting a new website (www.ialotteryvip.com) and special coupons, merchandise and prize drawings exclusively available to members of the club, which is free to join.
"The lottery has had a player loyalty program since 1994, and we think this latest upgrade will offer players a lot more value for the tickets they buy," Rich said. "Hang onto those nonwinning tickets - they'll really help you stretch your fun."
Customers may experience some interruptions in service as the lottery conversion continues in the weeks and months ahead, Rich said.
"There may occasionally be an inconvenience and we apologize for that," he said. "But we'll have the new system up and running as soon as possible and we think our retailers and customers will like the changes we've made."