Massachusetts ‘Offline’ Lottery weathers viral storm

in Lottery

“I am grateful for our loyal customers and proud of the work the Lottery team and dedicated retail partners have done to adjust operations in order to continue to generate essential local aid,” said Goldberg, chair of the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission.

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg recently announced the Massachusetts State Lottery produced an estimated $979 million in net profit for the commonwealth during the 2020 fiscal year that ended June 30, beating the agency’s revised projections.

Lottery revenues rang in at an estimated $5.252 billion, the third highest total in its 49-year history. It’s the sixth consecutive year that revenues have surpassed the $5 billion mark.

“I am grateful for our loyal customers and proud of the work the Lottery team and dedicated retail partners have done to adjust operations in order to continue to generate essential local aid,” said Goldberg, chair of the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission.

“At a time when we face mounting challenges, these resources are even more critical for our cities and towns.”

In fiscal year 2019, the Lottery set a record net profit of $1.104 billion from record revenues of $5.509 billion.

Fiscal year 2020 revenues and net profit were on track to possibly exceed the previous fiscal year’s totals before being sidetracked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall sales in March, April and May decreased by a combined $244.6 million compared to the same period in fiscal year 2019.

Compared to the opening week of March, Lottery sales in subsequent weeks declined by 1%, 20.6% and 29.3% respectively, a $57 million hit across all product offerings.

Scratch tickets and Keno sales, which account for roughly 69% and 20% of the Lottery’s daily revenues respectively, also tanked, with scratch ticket sales down about 24% from the first to last week of March, and Keno sales down 52%.

Fiscal year 2020 Keno sales, which rely on restaurants and bars forced to shutter due to the coronavirus, took the biggest in-state hit, totaling $979 million, a 7.2% decrease year over year.

Thanks to a rebound in June, instant ticket sales fought the pandemic to a virtual draw; that $3.646 billion tally was less than 1% shy of fiscal 2019’s total.

Nationwide lotteries took a significant hit because of smaller pots due to COVID-19 precautions. That’s reflected in the state’s figures, which showed Mega Millions and Powerball sales down 50.9% and 47.1% respectively

But the Lottery’s administrative costs remained at about 2% of overall revenues.

That $979 million in net profit goes directly to the state’s cities and towns, all of which can use as much local aid as possible to offset other revenue shortfalls.

All things considered, the Lottery performed admirably under adverse conditions — even without an online presence that Treasurer Goldberg has lobbied long and hard for.

Goldberg has been pressing the Legislature for years to approve online options to attract a younger demographic that’s grown up in the internet age, and who do most of their business and leisure transactions by smartphone or another digital device.

But lawmakers, apparently bowing to pressure from retailers who feared loss of in-store revenue, have frustrated Goldberg’s attempts to equip the Lottery with the tools required in the 21st century.

The stay-in-place environment underscores the irony of this legislative foot-dragging.

With a captive at-home, digital-friendly audience, just imagine how those March-May revenue figures would have looked if the Lottery offered a suite of online games for a stir-crazy public to play?

It would probably be celebrating another record year for revenue and profits — despite the virus — had online options been available.

https://www.bostonherald.com/2020/07/26/offline-lottery-weathers-viral-storm/