The Official Lottery

The official lottery has a long history. Its earliest form was a town-based gambling game, with the proceeds used for municipal construction projects and charity. By the fourteenth century, Europe was heavily reliant on lotteries as a source of revenue for everything from wars to building towns. Early America was similarly lottery-reliant, even despite Protestant proscriptions against gambling. Lotteries spread in the colonies, and they helped to finance everything from public buildings to the Revolutionary War.

By the mid-twentieth century, however, a tide of religious and moral sensibilities was turning against gambling. Corruption also played a role; it was easy for lottery organizers to sell tickets and then abscond with the proceeds without awarding prizes. And then there was a broader economic turn against gambling in general, a phenomenon that led to the decline of state-run lotteries.

In the early twenty-first century, a new generation of advocates began trying to resurrect lotteries as a source of public funding for services that were popular and nonpartisan—often education, but sometimes elder care or public parks. The new strategy shifted the emphasis from a statewide lottery to an individual line item in a state’s budget. This made legalization campaigns easier, but it did not address the fundamental problem of the lottery’s cost-effectiveness.

All lottery results, drawings and prize payouts are subject to verification by the Iowa Lottery before being published on this website. The Iowa Lottery makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of winning numbers, prize payouts and other information posted on this website, but cannot guarantee that such materials will be error-free.