Idaho Lottery legend retires: A legacy of innovation and community

Exclusive Lottery USA interview with Jeff Anderson as he retires after 17 years of service.

Idaho Lottery legend retires: A legacy of innovation and community
A picture of Jeff Anderson, the longest-serving Idaho Lottery Director, retiring after 17 years of service. Photograph credit to the Idaho Lottery.

Jeff Anderson, the longest-serving Lottery Director in Idaho history, is retiring on July 26, 2024. He has overseen both the Idaho Lottery and the Idaho State Liquor Division for the past 17 and a half years.

Anderson's tenure has been marked by significant achievements. The Idaho Lottery has returned nearly $1 billion to Idaho for public education and permanent facilities, and Anderson himself has served on the boards of prestigious national organizations, including serving as President of the Multi-State Lottery Association Board of Directors, the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries Board of Directors, and Chairman of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA) Board of Directors.

In an interview with Lottery USA, and echoing the sentiment expressed in the press release announcing his retirement, Anderson says:

It's been an honor and a privilege. Serving the people of Idaho for nearly two decades has been incredibly rewarding.

Beyond the numbers: The heart of the Idaho Lottery

While the financial contributions are impressive, Anderson is most proud of the Idaho Lottery's Do Good programs. These initiatives are in addition to the large, annual centralized distribution of funds and target specific needs within communities, ensuring a direct impact on people's lives.

  • Scratch for Schools (est. 2001): This program fosters teamwork and friendly competition. Schools register in advance, and on the event day, representatives gather at a central location. Each school receives a set of scratch-off tickets with varying prize amounts. The excitement builds as teams frantically scratch away, hoping to win big for their school. All prizes won, from free tickets to cash, are kept by the schools to use for their specific needs.
  • Bucks for Books (est. 2019): This program addresses a critical but often overlooked need – funding for elementary school libraries. A discovery during Anderson's tenure revealed that some schools had as little as $100 to spend on books for an entire year. This severely limited student access to essential reading materials. Bucks for Books tackles this issue head-on. Schools can apply for grants through a simple online application process. The Lottery then reviews applications and awards grants based on need.
  • Classroom Wishlist (ongoing): Teachers can submit a list of specific needs and wishes for their students. These wishes can range from basic school supplies like pencils and notebooks to more specialized items like microscopes or science kits. VIP Club members, the Idaho Lottery's loyalty program, can then browse these wishlists and choose to donate their points towards fulfilling a particular need. This allows VIP members to directly impact the learning environment of a specific classroom.
  • Love Your School (ongoing): This program taps into the generosity of VIP Club members and fosters a sense of community involvement. Members can donate their points to enter a monthly drawing. The lucky winner gets to choose an Idaho public school to receive $1,000. This money can be used for anything from a field trip to new technology or library resources. Adding a personal touch, the winning VIP member even receives $100 in scratch-off tickets as a thank-you for their contribution.

Anderson said:

The Do Good programs are what I am most proud of. Our Lottery team was posed with educational needs, and they created these programs to address those needs.

Referencing large checks the Idaho Lottery presents to the governor each year, Anderson continued:

It's not about the big checks. It's about making a real difference in people's lives, and the Do Good programs do exactly that.

Innovation and recognition

In 2014, the Idaho Lottery, under Jeff Anderson's leadership, achieved a remarkable feat – being recognized as the highest-performing jurisdiction in the US. This wasn't a stroke of luck but the culmination of a multi-pronged strategy focused on innovation and customer-centricity.

  • Building on momentum: Coming off a stellar fiscal year in 2012 with a 12.5% sales increase, the Lottery didn't rest on its laurels. FY 2013 saw another impressive 20% growth, demonstrating a clear commitment to sustained success.
  • Customer focus: At the heart of this strategy was a simple yet powerful philosophy – the customer, the retailers who sell lottery tickets, is the hero. By prioritizing retailer needs and fostering strong relationships, the Idaho Lottery ensured a smooth flow of products and a positive customer experience.
  • Keeping it fresh: Recognizing the importance of variety, the Lottery amplified its efforts in the scratch ticket market. This included introducing a wider range of games, with a focus on higher-priced tickets that offered more lucrative prizes. This catered to a growing segment of players seeking a bigger potential return.
  • Riding the jackpot wave: The Lottery capitalized on this by strategically promoting major jackpot games, further driving sales and excitement among players.
  • Thinking inside the box: Innovation wasn't limited to traditional lottery products. The Idaho Lottery made a bold move by expanding its reach into the liquor business. This strategic partnership allowed them to sell scratch-off tickets at these establishments, creating a new and profitable sales channel.

The Public Gaming Research Institute (PGRI), a prestigious industry organization, recognized the Idaho Lottery's achievements. This national recognition was a testament to the effectiveness of Anderson's multi-faceted strategy.

Looking forward: Challenges and opportunities

As Anderson reflects on the future, he acknowledges the challenges facing the Idaho Lottery, including limitations on cashless payments for vending machines. There is an opportunity to meet modern marketplace demands and provide better customer service from these vending machines - if state code is amended.

He's also optimistic about opportunities like the expansion of iLottery, a new online format already adopted in several states and Washington, D.C.

Anderson isn't sure what the future holds after his retirement, but he's open to staying in the gaming industry. His biggest hope for the Idaho Lottery is a smooth transition to new leadership, ideally with separate directors for the Lottery and Liquor Division.

Anderson's final piece of advice is:

A relentless focus on the customer.

He emphasizes the importance of industry unity in a changing landscape:

Lotteries need to adapt to consumer preferences while remaining collaborative.

A legacy of leadership

Anderson's dedication extends beyond financial performance and innovative products. His leadership on national boards demonstrates a commitment to responsible gaming and industry collaboration.

Anderson emphasized:

It's been about the teams. The success of the Idaho Lottery is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the people who make it all happen.

Jeff Anderson's retirement marks the end of an era for the Idaho Lottery. However, his legacy – a focus on responsible gaming, community investment, and innovation – positions the Lottery for continued success in the years to come.


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