No Changes On The Horizon As Iowa Lottery Renews Contract With Scientific Games

Written By Derek Helling on April 9, 2020
Iowa lottery

While multi-state lotteries have announced changes to popular games like Mega Millions and Powerball, the status quo should mostly remain in place for the games the Iowa Lottery offers. That’s because the lottery is sticking with Scientific Games for its systems management.

That means lottery customers in Iowa should see no significant changes to their favorite Iowa-specific games over the next decade, at least. It also means that the lottery in Iowa should continue to be on par with other states’ operations.

What is Scientific Games and what does it do for the Iowa Lottery?

Scientific Games is an entertainment company that provides games, services and systems for state lotteries and many more gambling operators all over the world. The company has offices in Atlanta and Las Vegas.

Since 2002, Scientific Games has provided those services for the Iowa Lottery. When someone in Iowa buys a ticket for a game that is unique to the state, that person is playing a game managed by Scientific Games.

The amount of money that Scientific Games charges the lottery for those services isn’t public information. What is certain, however, is that Scientific Games has won an extension to its contract.

The Lottery Authority Board voted unanimously to award the contract for another decade to Scientific Games on April 7. It includes an option for the lottery to extend it again for a further five years.

Scientific Games says it has helped the Iowa Lottery grow by a total of $878 million from 2011-19. It says it will roll out a new system with the lottery in the summer of 2021 that includes an “advanced gaming system, central communications network, retailer terminals and player self-service kiosks.”

Because of the lottery’s and Scientific Games’ familiarity with each other and the market, the rollout of the new system should be rather painless. Iowans who play multi-state games like Mega Millions and Powerball might feel otherwise, however.

What’s going on with Mega Millions and Powerball across the US?

Like most other aspects of society, multi-state lottery games have felt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of that, the administrators of Mega Millions and Powerball have made some significant changes recently.

Essentially, both games have eliminated guarantees on future jackpots and roll increases. Roll increases are the amounts by which jackpots increase between drawings if jackpots go unclaimed.

Under normal circumstances, Powerball starts each new jackpot off at $40 million and each roll increase is worth $10 million. Mega Millions usually operates very similarly, with starting jackpots of the same amount and roll increases of $5 million.

To keep the games afloat, both games have eliminated guarantees on future starting jackpots and future roll increases. The guarantees remain in place on the current jackpots, however.

The cost of tickets for both games remains constant at $2 as well. The opportunity to get a crack at the current $136 million (Mega Millions) and $190 million (Powerball) jackpots is running out, however.

Time is certainly not running out on Scientific Games’ relationship with the Iowa Lottery. That will remain in place for at least the next decade and perhaps much longer.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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