The expansion of lotteries into the American West began with Arizona, the first state west of Mississippi to legalize the games. Voter approval was narrow in November 1980, with just a 51-49 margin, but the Arizona Lottery has become an integral part of the Arizona culture. Subsequent votes as the Lottery came up for sunset review were much more definitive; most recently an overwhelming 73 percent of voters approved a 10-year lottery extension in 2002. In 2010, the Legislature passed a bill ensuring the Lottery will continue until 2035.
Ticket sales began over the July 4 weekend in 1981 with an instant game, Scratch It Rich, and its 21.4 million tickets sold out in 10 days, a phenomenal success for the fledgling lottery. Instant games continued to make up the Lottery’s entire product mix until 1984, when its first draw game, the popular lotto game The Pick, was introduced. Today, the Lottery’s regular portfolio also includes Powerball, Mega Millions, Fantasy 5, CA$H4, 2by2 and Pick 3.
By statute, proceeds from the Arizona Lottery are divided among numerous programs in four specific areas: education, health and public welfare, economic and business development, and the environment. Along with General Fund revenues earmarked for these programs, dedicated beneficiaries include Healthy Arizona, the Heritage Fund in the Department of Game and Fish, the Commerce Authority, the University Capital Improvement Bond Fund, the Homeless Emergency/Transitional Shelters program and the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program for children. Lottery revenues also help pay for the state’s problem gambling hotline.
Today, education and health and public welfare combined receive the lion’s share of lottery revenues.
Year established: 1981
Products Offered: The Pick™, Powerball®, Mega Millions®, Fantasy 5™, Pick 3™, Weekly Winnings™ and 2by2™
By law, proceeds from Arizona Lottery sales go to programs and services in four state pillars of focus that include a variety of beneficiaries. The four Arizona Lottery pillars are: education, health & public welfare, economic & business development, and environmental issues.