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First 'digital lottery courier' service arrives in Idaho

Several states — including Illinois and New York — are now pushing forward with plans to offer lotteries on the Internet.
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Several states — including Illinois and New York — are now pushing forward with plans to offer lotteries on the Internet.

Idaho Lottery tickets are now just a tap away on your mobile device. The Jackpocket app is nearly a decade old and has expanded into 14 states including Idaho and neighboring Oregon and Montana.

"We like to think of ourselves as kind of the 'GrubHub' for the lottery," company Director of Content Pia Aliperti explained.

The Jackpocket service launched in Idaho in September, licensed by the Idaho Lottery through a brick-and-mortar vendor called 'Winners Corner ID, LLC". The app has captured traditional users, Aliperti says, but is aimed at younger players.

"A new generation of player who's used to living their life on an app and may not have played the lottery otherwise, but are willing to give it a try," she said.

Users load money into the app by connecting a bank account or credit card. Jackpocket takes a 9% cut, and then you can place an order.

"We verify and geolocate our players before they're allowed to place an order," Aliperti said. "We also have responsible play tools embedded into the app; things like spending limits or funding limits."

Jackpocket employees buy tickets on users’ behalf at a storefront in Boise. The ticket is photographed and kept in a secure vault at the store. Prizes up to $600 are paid through the app. Winners of larger prizes can pick up their tickets to take to the state lottery office.

An Idaho Lottery spokesman offered no comments on the app, only confirming its licensing as an Idaho Lottery retailer.

The app doesn't take a percentage of winnings. Aliperti said since 2013, JackPocket has couriered tickets for more than $200 million in prize money. Big jackpots drive up activity on the app just like they do at the corner store.

"In July, when there was that kind of the historic Mega Millions run, we reached as high as 15% market share in for certain drawings in certain states," Aliperti said.

Jackpocket has been quickly expanding into western and southern states, with five more on deck in the coming months.

Techcrunch.com reported that Jackpocket landed $120 million in financing in 2021, and long-term, wants to expand to other games beyond regular lotteries: raffles, sweepstakes, bingo and social casino games, according to CEO and Founder Peter Sullivan. Investors in the company include comedian Kevin Hart and billionaire entrepreneur and television personality Mark Cuban.

Aliperti says Jackpocket works hard to ensure it meets all state and local laws, and has often worked with state lawmakers prior to offering the service in a state. Many Republicans in Idaho have spoken out against gaming; a few tried to end the Powerball game in Idaho last year.

State representative and assistant majority leader Jason Monks (R-Meridian) successfully sponsored a bill in the 2022 session allowing Powerball to continue, but only because the issue was the game's overseas expansion. He said he'd rather end all gambling in the state of Idaho, but ending Powerball meant the legislature was 'picking a winner and a loser,' as gaming would continue.

Monks said he was not familiar with Jackpocket and he wanted to educate himself more on the program. Jackpocket said it did not consider 'legislative risk' when expanding its service into Idaho.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the brick-and-mortar location as 'Winning Corner ID, LLC'.

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News. He's also heard Saturday nights on Boise State Public Radio Music's Jazz Conversations.