Iowa Lottery Requests Implementation of Touchscreen Technology

Wednesday September 30th 2015

After a 2006 ban shut down TouchPlay machines across the Hawkeye State, Iowa Lottery officials are now seeking to reimplement the use of touchscreens in retail machines to keep up with changing technology.

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Nearly ten years ago, the Iowa legislature voted to ban TouchPlay technology after a commissioned report argued that the devices were essentially slot machines, which are only allowed in casinos. TouchPlay allowed lottery players to see the results of a game they played on the screen itself, as opposed to dispensing physical tickets. The machines were used throughout the state and raised $30 million in revenue prior to the ban.

However, the legislation that was pushed through in 2006 would also prevent a new generation of touchscreen lottery machines to be used in Iowa. Mary Neubauer, the Vice President of the Iowa Lottery, was quoted in Radio Iowa as saying that “with TouchPlay it was a game you played on a screen...this [new] machine, you are simply using the screen to select a product from a machine.”

Neubauer claims that the current law could prevent the organization from using new technology in order to remain competitive and keep sales strong in order to benefit the state. “So, we have requested to the governor’s office that we be allowed to file legislation this year to make it clear that Iowa Lottery can continue to use these traditional vending machines,” she said.

Lottery vending machines in Iowa, which use push buttons, are currently used to sell pull-tab tickets and scratchcards, and are already outdated, having been purchased in 1991. The companies responsible for manufacturing the machines have shifted towards touchscreen technology, leaving the Iowa Lottery in an unfavorable business position. The current contract runs out in September of next year, with officials hoping that a change in the law can be pushed through in January, giving them enough time to order new ones.

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