The regulation and setup of the Iowa state lottery followed the same pattern as in many states.
Regulation started in 1985, with the first games beginning that year. Iowa is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which gives residents access to Powerball, Mega Millions and other nationwide lotto games.
In 2012, for instance, the Powerball was won in Iowa. Twenty cereal factory workers won the massive $241 million prize.
You’ll find everything you need to get the most from the Iowa Lottery below. We cover its history, along with the various games. Then we explore responsible gaming, awards for good causes and alternative ways to gamble in Iowa.
While big-money draws in the Iowa Lottery are multi-state, others only cover Iowa. The most frequent of these are the pick games, one with three numbers and the other with four:
You can access tickets for some of the biggest draws around the country from lottery terminals in Iowa. These include Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life and Lotto America.
There are around 60 various scratch-it card games running at any one time through the Iowa Lottery.
These range in denomination from $30 to just $1. You can expect entertaining themes, with plenty of play-on-word puns in the titles. Below is a selection of the current games:
Pull tab games also come in a range of denominations. These are available from vending machines in bars and restaurants, as well as at retail lottery outlets. There are lots to choose from, with quirky and colorful themes. Denominations range from 25 cents to $5.
At the time of writing, the Iowa Lottery has raised $1.9 billion for good purposes.
The money is split between the general fund, treatment for problem gamblers, the Iowa Veterans Trust fund and the CLEAN fund.
The biggest allocation, by far, is for the general fund, which involves funding programs that “benefit all Iowans.” Areas include education, natural resources, health, family services and public safety. Allocation of the funds into areas is under the jurisdiction of the governor and state legislature.
Iowa has a long-term economic development program known as the “Iowa Plan,” which also receives lottery funds.
The money contributes to getting people back to work, as well as community programs and agriculture research. An environmental fund, known as the Committing the Lottery to Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources (CLEAN) fund, works with this program to fund environmental and cultural causes.
In 1985, the state codes were amended to create the Iowa Lottery Authority. This government body was tasked with setting up a state lottery, with a remit to raise money for good causes.
The beneficiaries have a broader scope than in many states, where education is the focus. It includes a veterans’ fund, an economic development program, repair of schools and treatment for people with gambling problems.
State codes require players to be 21 years or older to play lottery games in Iowa. Most states require players to be at least 18.
The first games were scratch-it cards. Called Scratch and Match and Win, these proved to be an instant hit, selling $6.4 million-worth in the first week.
These were quickly joined by Pick 3 and Pick 4 games. Instead of drawing these, the numbers from Indiana’s games were used up until 2014, when Iowa started its draws.
Also, there are pull-tab games, instant win games available through lottery terminals, and a long list of scratch-it cards of various denominations.
Multi-state games came to Iowa in 1992. Iowa joined the Multi-State Lottery Association in 1988.
It would be four more years before the first draw in the form of the Powerball; the Mega Millions joined in 1999.
Iowa would see the biggest win to date in 2012: $241 million on the Powerball. A group of workers at the Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids won this massive jackpot, which was presumably left the factory looking for new staff the following week.
While the gambling laws in Iowa changed again in 2019 to allow sports betting, the lottery was not affected by these changes.
You can’t buy tickets for the lottery online. The Iowa Lottery does have a detailed website, though, which lays out the rules of each game, the numbers that were drawn, and gives instructions on how to claim any big wins. The Iowa Lottery also offers an app.
Iowa has a successful lottery, which has an extensive range of games. The biggest draws are the multi-state games, like Powerball and Mega Millions. Unusually, Iowa does not have a midsized draw for only its residents. There are in-state draws, with the Pick 3 and Pick 4 games drawn twice every day. Pull tabs, scratch-it cards and instant-play games are also available.
For the population, the Iowa Lottery has raised a lot of money for good causes over the years. Almost $2 billion has been split between benefiting residents through a variety of educational and environmental programs.