By Colin A. Young, State House News Service
BOSTON, AUGUST 31, 2022 (State House News Service) – It’s one month into fiscal year 2023 and the headline numbers look good for the Massachusetts Lottery, though the agency’s head on Tuesday flagged two concerning trends that have cropped up and will warrant closer inspection going forward.
Lottery sales were up $15.7 million in July and the agency posted a monthly estimated profit of $102.9 million compared to $96.2 million in July 2021. Interim Executive Director Mark William Bracken, in a report to the Lottery Commission, attributed the profit bump in part to “a combination of a $42.1 million increase in Mega Millions sales for the month as a result of a $1.3 billion jackpot, and a $5.1 million decrease in Instant Ticket grand prizes being claimed for the month.”
Bracken said told the commission that, after adjustments, the Lottery had an estimated $13.3 million increase in net profit through the first month of fiscal year 2023 compared to the start of fiscal 2022. But while a Mega Millions jackpot drove sales for those tickets, Bracken said Tuesday that scratch tickets sales were down about 6 percent and that Keno sales were down almost 5 percent. Those two product categories account for nearly 88 percent of all Lottery sales.
“Obviously the most shocking being our instant ticket numbers being down $22.2 million. And that is a trend that we have seen both nationwide and into this current month of August as well that we’ll be discussing at the next commission meeting, as well as our Keno sales being down $5.5 [million] which is also a trend nationwide,” Bracken said. “Plus, we did happen to have a very warm August which generally speaking keeps people outside and less in restaurants and liquor establishments. So that’s contributing to somewhat of that decrease.”
Scratch tickets became a slightly smaller share of the Lottery’s gross sales, falling from 69.4 percent of sales revenue in fiscal 2021 to 66.9 percent in fiscal 2022, according to Lottery records. Keno gained ground last year, inching up from 18.2 percent of sales in fiscal 2021 to 20.8 percent in fiscal 2022.
The dip in scratch tickets sales comes at a time when Massachusetts is preparing to further expand commercial gambling with sports betting and while the long-sought ability for the Lottery to sell its products online remains hung up in private talks over the Legislature’s stalled economic development bill. Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said in early August that she hopes “to work with the Legislature to hold the Lottery harmless” as sports betting is rolled out.