In 1986 by initiative, the people of Idaho voted on the Lottery issue for the first time. The initiative resulted in a 60 to 40 percent "yes" margin, but was later declared unconstitutional by the Idaho Supreme Court. The Court prohibited the amending of the Idaho Constitution by initiative. However, in 1988 the Idaho Legislature authorized a vote by the electorate of Idaho in the upcoming general election. In November 1988, the Idaho Lottery act became law when 51% of Idaho voters approved a constitutional amendment repealing the constitutional ban on lotteries.
Idaho set a new industry record by implementing a lottery within 200 days. The first Idaho Lottery ticket was sold on July 19, 1989. On that first day of sales, players purchased more than 840,000 tickets throughout Idaho. That first year resulted in $65 million in sales and the first dividend check of $17,225,000 was given to then Governor Cecil D. Andrus on behalf of the "People of the State of Idaho."
Since its inception, the Idaho Lottery has offered lottery players more than 1,000 different Scratch Games™.
On February 1, 1990, the first Idaho Draw Game™ ticket was sold. The first Draw Game™ presented to Idaho Lottery players was "Idaho Super Lotto/Lotto*America." Over the years, the Idaho Lottery has offered different games with some changing names. Super Lotto/Lotto America became Powerball in 1992.
The mission of the Idaho Lottery is to responsibly provide entertaining games with a high degree of integrity to maximize the dividends for public schools and buildings. Historically, Lottery dividends are shared by Idaho's Public School Building Account and the Permanent Building Fund. A statute change in 2009, sets aside a portion of Lottery funds above the Fiscal Year 2008 funding level of $34 million for the Bond Levy Equalization Fund.
Since their inception in 1989, the Idaho Lottery has sold over $2.7 billion in products, awarded nearly $1.6 billion in prizes to players, returned more than $160 million in retail commissions, and distributed more than $649.5 million in Lottery dividends to state public schools and buildings.
The Idaho Lottery is composed of the Lottery Commission and the Idaho Lottery staff. The Governor appoints the five-member commission and each member serves for four years. The Commission adopts rules for the agency, approves contracts and monitors all Lottery operations. Executive Director Jeffrey R. Anderson serves at the pleasure of the Governor. The Director is responsible for overseeing day-to-day Lottery operations, including security, marketing, sales, media relations, warehousing and inventory control, information systems and fiscal management.