In November 1988 the citizens of Idaho passed a constitutional amendment that approved a lottery. The Idaho lottery began two hundred short days later in July of 1989. At the time, the period between passing the law and creating the lotto was the shortest amount of time in history. Recognized by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), it has an ultimate mission to create a fun and exciting way for contributing citizens to maximize the financial shares for public schools.
The lotto is managed by the Idaho government and donates fifty percent of all net funds to the public schools in the state. The remaining funding is donated to a college and university funding program called the Permanent Building Fund. Since its beginning in 1989, it has brought in 2.1 billion dollars in ticket sales and has donated $510.8 million to the state public school system. The ultimate vision is to become the highest performing lottery jurisdiction in the United States and Canada.
The largest portion of money, approximately sixty percent, is returned to the players in the form of cash and prizes. The 2011 fiscal year represented the highest dividend return in its twenty-two years of history. The second largest portion of money, approximately twenty-five percent, is returned to the state citizens in the annual dividend. This dividend is split equally among the public schools and permanent buildings, such as university campuses. Lotto retailers receive about six percent of the revenue and approximately ten percent of the revenue goes to game support, administrative costs, and advertising.
The lotto offers citizens a wide selection of games to purchase and play. Seven days a week, Pick Three is played one time each day and citizens can win a variety of prizes. Double Play Daily is also played seven days a week with two play times each day. The first play of the day is for a set amount of $20,000 and the second play of the day is for a jackpot that starts at $20,000.
Various Instant Scratch games are offered at a range of one to twenty dollars apiece. Pull Tab games are offered at selected social settings such as restaurants, bowling alleys, and pubs or bars and range from twenty-five cents to one dollar.
Multiple multi-lotto games are also offered. Wild Card Two, Hot Lotto, and Powerball are played two nights a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. When the MUSL and Mega Millions agreed to sell both Mega Millions and Powerball on October 13, 2009 in US lotto jurisdictions, Mega Millions tickets were also introduced to state’s multi-lotto games. Ticket sales for the Mega Millions began at the end of January 2010. Mega Millions is played two days a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The unofficial mascot is a giant, 132″ red Powerball called “Ball”. The ball made its first appearance in television ads in 2006. These commercials received critical acclaim and the Best of Show Award at the Northwest Addy Awards. The ball has continued to make appearances at various community events such as sporting events at the collegiate and professional level.
In 2007 the Idaho Lottery Lotto games switched the instant ticket vendor and online provider to Scientific Games and INTRALOT, respectively. July 2007 represented the beginning of “firsts”, giving players the opportunity to earn reward points for each dollar spent on tickets. These points can be redeemed to buy various electronic equipment and other merchandise such as iPods, bicycles, and watches. In August 2008 another “first” was made by allowing players to donate part of their winnings to a charity or international non-profit organization.