Big Powerball jackpots brought lots of Nebraskans and Iowans to their local convenience stores over the past year, and that helped both states' lotteries break sales records.
The Nebraska Lottery took in $160.8 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30. That's the most it ever has — and 6.7 percent more than the previous fiscal year, according to preliminary numbers from lottery officials.
The Nebraska Lottery paid out almost $84 million in winnings. In all, the lottery raised $40 million for causes such as educational grants, environmental programs and the Nebraska State Fair. A small portion also goes toward treating compulsive gamblers.
More than $489 million has been raised for the lottery's beneficiary funds since it began in 1993, according to lottery officials.
“Celebrating our 20th anniversary with a new record makes us extremely pleased,” Jim Haynes, Nebraska Lottery director, said in a press release. “The partnership between the lottery, our players and retailers has helped us reach this milestone.”
Powerball made changes in 2012 that led to higher payouts, and that helped drive sales in Nebraska this year, officials said.
A $560 million Powerball in November and one for $320 million last August drew lines of would-be winners in Nebraska and Iowa to buy tickets, though the eventual winners of those jackpots did not live nearby.
Iowa saw both record sales and record payouts, according to lottery officials in that state.
Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said it took in nearly $340 million during the fiscal year ending June 30. That's the highest total in the 28 years the state lottery has been in business. During the previous fiscal year, the sales were nearly $311 million.
“Over the past year, the state of Iowa has hit the jackpot,” Rich said. “This was an incredible year for the Iowa lottery.”
In all, the lottery paid out about $200 million in prizes and gave nearly $85 million to the state. Most of the money goes to the state's general fund, which covers expenses that include education and public safety, with a small amount earmarked for the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund.
During the year, the instant-scratch games generated the most revenue, followed by Powerball tickets. There was no data on how many tickets were sold or exactly how many people played, but lottery officials said that about 70 percent of state residents participate in the lottery during a year.
A Hy-Vee Supermarket in Cedar Rapids had the most in lottery sales, with $1.06 million in receipts.
Since Iowa's lottery began in 1985, the program has raised $1.4 billion for the state.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.