The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of 30% of the 9,800 Pennsylvania Lottery retailers across the state. Sales from traditional games dipped about 25% since closures of non-essential businesses and stay-at-home orders in mid-March.
However, Pennsylvania is one of only six states with an online lottery. It has proved to be a valuable asset for the PA Lottery and a safe option as online lottery play in PA has increased 30% compared to prior weeks.
Traditional lottery games take a hit
The Pennsylvania Lottery’s preliminary data shows sales of games impacted by closures include:
- Draw games
- Mega Millions
Essential businesses that are lottery retailers, such as certain grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies, remain open. PA iLottery saw an uptick in play likely due to Pennsylvanians staying home.
The 30% increase in online play does not include Powerball or Mega Millions. Powerball and Mega Millions’ online sales accounted for 6% of overall sales for those online games the week before last.
Pennsylvania Lottery Press Secretary Ewa Dworakowski said:
“While we are happy to see that growth online, a majority of our sales still come from our traditional games and it’s important to note that the increase in online sales is not enough to offset the sales the Lottery has lost on the traditional side of the business. Just to put it in perspective, nearly 70% of our business comes from our scratch-off sales. In other words, our traditional products remain the foundation of our business.”
Players turn to PA iLottery
PA iLottery features popular games like:
- Mega Millions
- Pennsylvania Keystone Cash
- Potion Payout
- James Bond 007
- Pennsylvania Payout
- And more
Dworakowski admitted that when iLottery launched in Pennsylvania in May 2018, they weren’t planning for a pandemic. Instead, the goal was to “meet players where they already were,” which is online.
“We are pleased that iLottery has been a popular option for our players through this unprecedented situation.”
Programs for older residents
The Pennsylvania Lottery has a long-held reputation for benefitting older Pennsylvanians. It is the only state lottery where all of the proceeds go to older residents.
In the last year, the Pennsylvania Lottery generated more than $1 billion in PA Lottery benefits for various programs such as:
- Senior centers and meals
- Low-cost prescription assistance
- Free and reduced-fare transportation
- Care services
- Property tax and rent rebates
“These life-sustaining programs that seniors depend on will be needed more than ever once the pandemic is over.”
PA Lottery tweaking operations to adapt to COVID-19
Dworakowski says the majority of the Pennsylvania Lottery employees are telecommunicating. They continue to operate and safeguard the business to provide support for the senior programs funded by the lottery.
The PA Lottery staff is following the guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when conducting live drawings, processing claims, communicating with retailers and answering questions from players.
For lottery retailers that remain open, the PA Lottery is encouraging them to disinfect their lottery vending machines and clean stores more frequently. Also, the PA Lottery provided retailers with an online guide for proper procedures to disinfect lottery terminals.
“We also recognize that we have an important role to play during this pandemic. We are also using several of our communication tools, such as emails to players, our website PALottery.com, and live television drawing banners to share important information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. We are trying to echo the message from our health officials to stay calm, stay home and stay safe.”