- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A $40 million jackpot no longer makes Idaho residents feel like getting lucky.

The Idaho Lottery is reporting a drop in its annual return to the state, making it the first time in 11 years the state’s lottery fell below its previous end-of-the year dividends.

Director Jeff Anderson announced Tuesday that the state’s lottery is returning $45 million in annual dividends. That’s an 8 percent drop from last year, when the lottery reported a record high of $49 million.

People tend to buy lottery tickets for extraordinarily large jackpots with hundreds of millions at stake, Anderson said. However, this past fiscal year, Idaho had long stretches of jackpots ranging from $40 million to $60 million.

Even Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said he waits until the jackpot is around $200 million before buying a lottery ticket.

“Would I like to see it continue to grow? Listen, I’m not going to put a gun to anybody’s head and make them buy a lottery ticket, but that’s not what it’s all about,” Otter said. “We can do marketing; we can encourage people in a responsible way. We don’t want people spending their lunch money on a lottery ticket. Everyone has their reasons why they buy a lottery ticket.”

The biggest Powerball jackpot for the recently concluded fiscal year 2015 was $188 million.

This year’s dividends returned $17 million to Idaho public schools and another $17 million to the state’s permanent building fund, which helps build and maintain state buildings, including at colleges and universities. The remaining $11 million will go to the state’s bond levy equalization fund, which helps support school bond levies.

Anderson noted that overall sales -including two new games the lottery introduced in the past year - were up in Idaho compared with the last fiscal year by 1 percent, totaling $211 million.

The lottery will not spend more on advertising to help boost sales, Anderson said. Instead, his team is continuing to work on tweaking Idaho’s own mix of games to make them appealing to residents, he said.

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