Tickets sales at the Colorado Lottery began January 24, 1983, after the legislature passed a lottery bill the previous summer. The first offering was the scratch game Instant Money Made from Scratch. Expected to generate $60 million in sales, it brought in $137 million in just five months.
Scratch games made up the Lottery’s entire portfolio for a full six years after its launch, as it wasn’t until 1989 that Lotto was added to the mix. Keno began in 1991, and Cash 5 in 1996. Not surprisingly, with each of these early game introductions, sales and revenues to beneficiaries rose to new record levels. Powerball began in 2001, and Mega Millions in 2010. Those two multistate games headline the Lottery’s current mix of draw games, which also includes Lotto and Cash 5.
Although offering a relatively limited game portfolio compared to other lotteries, the Colorado Lottery has a heritage of innovation and creative marketing, a tone set by its first director Owen Hickey. He believed in focusing on the positive aspects of lotteries. Such was Hickey’s influence that a prestigious NASPL award is now named after him.
Colorado was perhaps a little ahead of its time when it launched Perfecto games in 1998 – a suite of limited-run games that for the first time in the industry combined the action of instant games with the draw power of a jackpot game.
Revenues from the Colorado Lottery help improve the quality of life in the state. Beneficiaries include:
- Great Outdoors Colorado, 50 percent, capped at $35 million annually, adjusted for inflation. GOCO is entirely funded by the Colorado Lottery, and money is used to build trails, help open recreation facilities, preserve ranchlands and view corridors, improve and expand river quality and access, and conserve wildlife habitats.
- Conservation Trust Fund, 40 percent. This fund provides money to local parks and recreation providers for open space and land acquisition, equipment purchases, facility development, park maintenance, and for the renovation and restoration of local facilities.
- Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, 10 percent. Lottery funds are used for trail construction and maintenance, land acquisition, equipment and facility purchases and maintenance of state parks facilities.
- Public School Capitol Construction Assistance Fund receives excess GOCO revenues over $35 million annually.
Year Established: 1983
Products Offered: Scratch games and Jackpot games (Cash 5, Lotto, Powerball and MegaMillions)
Beneficiaries: Conservation Trust Fund, Great Outdoor Colorado Trust Fund, Colorado State Parks