April 27, 2014 | 4:43 pm
The joint scratch game, called "Midwest Millions," will offer a higher prize percentage and greater number of large prizes than the two state lotteries have traditionally been able to offer on their own for games at similar price points.
Kansas Lottery Executive Director Ed Van Petten said his inspiration for "Midwest Millions" came from the success that Canadian lotteries have achieved by joining together to offer instant-scratch games with millions of dollars in prizes.
"I was looking at the sales trends for the multi-provincial games in Canada and wondered why no one in the United States had tried a similar concept," Van Petten said. "The Canadian lotteries have been quite successful with this type of game. We have many multi-state lotto games where the prize fund is pooled. Why not try the same concept on an instant game?"
The provincial lotteries in Canada have successfully offered joint instant-scratch games since 1976. The multi-jurisdictional scratch games have been sold across that country and single games have offered prizes including $1 million in cash, vehicles and vacation packages. While U.S. lotteries have worked together on promotions, advertising campaigns and even television game shows to support instant-scratch sales, no U.S. lotteries to date have offered a joint scratch game with prizes in each jurisdiction offered as part of one big pool.
At one time, all lottery games were individual to the jurisdiction where they were offered. But lotto games such as Powerball and the Canadian instant-scratch games have proven that players are willing to compete as part of a larger game spanning multiple jurisdictions in exchange for bigger prizes and more chances to win.
As he continued to evaluate his idea in mid-2006, Van Petten, who has led the Kansas Lottery since 2000, contacted Iowa Lottery CEO Dr. Ed Stanek, the longest-serving lottery leader in the world and one of the co-inventors of the Powerball game. Stanek saw merit in the idea, and the two began the work of bringing a game to market.
"Fifteen years into the Powerball era, no one can argue with the success the multi-jurisdictional concept has achieved," Stanek said. "A multi-state instant-scratch game definitely deserves a fair shot in the market."
The number of tickets that can be offered in a lottery game and the size and number of prizes that can be supported are dependent upon population. In 1992, Iowa, Kansas and 13 other lotteries joined forces to introduce Powerball, which has gone on to produce world-record jackpots and dozens of multi-millionaire jackpot winners.
By joining together to sell Midwest Millions, Kansas, with a state population of about 2.7 million people, and Iowa, with about 2.9 million people, will effectively double their population base for the game.
Stanek, who has led the Iowa Lottery since its start in 1985, said Powerball's success has exceeded any expectation he had when it began and he's hopeful about the future for multi-jurisdictional instant-scratch games.
"It all depends on players' reactions and the ability of states to be flexible about game concepts, but this could be the beginning of a new generation of lottery product," he said.
Tickets in the $10 Midwest Millions game will feature scenes indicative of the states' shared agricultural heritage. Artwork on the tickets will include a picture of a sunflower (Kansas' state flower and a major cash crop) and an ear of corn (Iowa is the nation's top corn-producing state) along with a field full of round bales of hay in the background. The bales near the front of the scene have morphed into big round bales of money.
Midwest Millions will offer 1.2 million tickets, with 600,000 going to each state. The game will begin statewide sales in both states on Sept. 10. Instant prizes will range from $10 to $50,000 and two second-chance drawings will each offer a $500,000 prize and 50 prizes of $1,000. The first drawing in the game will be conducted Jan. 11 in Topeka, Kan. The second drawing will be April 18 in Des Moines, Iowa. The top-prize winners could both end up being from one state, as could the 50 other winners in each drawing, although that isn't likely.
Kansas' Van Petten knows that sales will measure the game's success.
"I fully expect this game to sell out," he said. "I do think this is an interesting concept that will intrigue our players by allowing us to fund larger prizes with the pooling of resources. If this is successful, my hope is to involve more states. I think this will be a special benefit to smaller states such as Kansas and Iowa."