Iowa Lottery picks up pace on Powerball in ‘instant gratification world’

The Iowa Lottery is based in Clive. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Lottery)

The Iowa Lottery is experimenting with two of its hallmark games in a long-term roll of the dice on the future of lottos, a spokeswoman said. 

Lucky for Life will have daily drawings beginning July 19, instead of the current Monday and Thursday draws, said Mary Neubauer, the Lottery’s vice president of external relations. 

Powerball will begin holding a third weekly drawing on Mondays beginning Aug. 23. Drawings now are held Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The move comes after a pandemic-disrupted year that saw scratch ticket sales soar while the lotto drawings struggled a bit, Neubauer said in an interview. The Lottery looked for a way to gain attention for the lotto games, while keeping the odds, and the cost, the same. 

“Interestingly, the lotto side of things was (affected) in a bad way by COVID, while at the same time, the scratch ticket side of lottery sales was (affected) really positively,” Neubauer said. “People were buying scratch tickets as entertainment at home, whereas lotto tickets would be where you’re buying them and waiting to see if you match the numbers.”

“As an industry, lotteries have been looking at making long-term changes to the lotto category to bring strength back to that category,” Neubauer said. 

The extra drawings should boost sales, Neubauer said.

“One of the goals with the changes, especially in Powerball, is to achieve bigger, faster-growing jackpots and bring additional sales in that way,” Neubauer said. 

Asked why the Lottery didn’t make Powerball a daily game, as it is doing with Lucky for Life, Neubauer said the thought was that such a change would be too jarring to players used to waiting a bit between drawings for the big lotto game. And the Lottery wanted to be sure the cost and odds were unchanged. 

Neubauer said it’s unclear if this will be the start of a series of changes. That will depend on the results. 

She added: “It’s a nod to today’s fast-paced world. The other part of the conversation I think is just the change in our society. We’re an instant gratification world these days.”

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.