Idaho Powerball’s Future
In March, Idaho lawmakers shut down a proposed bill that would have allowed the Powerball to continue in Idaho. Powerball’s expansion to operate in the United Kingdom and Australia conflicts with an existing Idaho state law. As it stands, the Powerball will no longer conduct business in Idaho beginning this August. NACS writes that Idaho convenience stores are pushing for the Powerball to return. The lottery is important to convenience stores in all states, and the cessation of Idaho’s Powerball lottery threatens c-store profits.
When you combine dividends, commissions and earnings, Powerball means more than $1 million monthly for Idaho convenience stores. The thought of taking that money away from communities and local economies is frightening.
In addition, the average lottery player spends twice as much in Idaho’s convenience stores as non-lottery players.
Berry urged lawmakers to take action before the end of the legislative session to reverse the decision. “It means too much to our businesses, schools and state to get rid of it,” he said. Association research showed Powerball generated $9.4 million for the state’s public schools, which has been used to repair and maintain buildings and fund a bond levy equalization initiative.
Idaho was one of the first participating states when the Powerball began operating in the 1990s. In Idaho, a portion of every $2 spent on a ticket goes to Idaho public schools. Sheri Ybarra, Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction spoke to KTVB about the impact of this loss.
“The loss to schools would be approximately $9.4 million and schools typically use that money primarily for maintenance and repairs on student-occupied buildings,” Sheri Ybarra said. “So, it’s really around safety as well to schools and districts.”
Ybarra added that there’s also a statewide match requirement that’s largely met with lottery dollars and will have to come from the general fund if the bill is not reconsidered.