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January 11, 2016


Hi, Mark. Thank you for being an informed player! You are correct that Pick 3 and Pick 4 have more ways to make plays in them than do some of our other numbers games. One suggestion I always have is to use a play slip in your purchase, as you can clearly mark on the play slip what plays you would like and then the lottery terminal automatically generates the play(s) specified by your play slip. With everything that retail staffers are tasked with handling these days, I don't think we can expect them to be lottery experts. Thanks again for playing and for coaching folks in the field.

Regarding Plays vs Draws:
Try to ask for a Pick 3 or Pick 4 play! You would be surprised to know how many clerks DO NOT EVEN KNOW that these are available. I've gotten to where I can talk a clerk through a ticket purchase without seeing the terminal at all.

And to compound things, for whatever reason the Iowa Lottery decided to REVERSE the position of the Plays and Draws- what would normally be the number of plays is where the number of draws are on Pick 3/4. Almost guaranteed to mess up a ticket if you ask for 5 plays... you will get 1 play for 5 draws. /rant over :-)

Thank you for doing that, Douglas. We've been sending out message to all lottery terminals here in Iowa this week with reminders about how to utilize the Play 'Em All function to print tickets. Our sales representatives also are giving retailers refreshers about that during their stops. We hear you and we're trying to help. We're glad you play the lottery.

And if you want to get a real "deer in the headlights" look, just ask for the "Pick'Em All" option. I don't do it very often, but the times I've tried I have never had a clerk that understood what I was asking for or been able to fulfill my request. So, I just filled in the bottom side of some play slips to cover that option and selected Computer picks on the topside.

Regarding requesting multiple individual single play tickets as opposed to multiple plays on the same ticket, while it might not apply to Powerball, once long ago in the old Iowa pick 6 lotto I matched 5 of 6 twice on the same ticket that had five plays on it. The retailer could not pay me because that was considered a $1,000 winner instead of two individual $500 winnings, and exceeded the $600 they are allowed to pay out, so I had to drive to a regional lottery headquarters, fill out a claim form and have withholding taken out of my winnings. So I was kind of frustrated about that and was considering only buying single tickets at a time even when doing multiple plays.
Another reason to only have single tickets instead of asking for 5 or 10 on a play slip is that frequently when I buy a Hot Lotto ticket they will screw up and give me one play for 5 draws instead of 5 plays for one draw. For some reason this only seems to happen when I buy Hot Lotto and not Powerball or Mega Millions. I suppose maybe because that game isn't as commonly played. But I had complained about it in the past to lottery headquarters and was assured that the screen is the same. Ironically this just happened to me again last Saturday when I asked for 5 Hot Lotto tickets at the HyVee on Douglas in Urbandale when I was also buying my Powerball tickets for that Saturday drawing.

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As the lottery’s vice president of external relations, I’m a member of the senior management team at the Iowa Lottery, where I’ve worked since 1999. I’ve spent my years at the lottery learning as much as I can about all the ins and outs of the lottery industry. I’ll put that knowledge to work here so I can share the behind-the-scenes details with you!