It wasn’t always pretty. Like everything else, the PA Lottery took some hits during the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
According to a news release, traditional game sales were down $33.8 million, a 0.75% decline from last year. And as noted previously at PA Online Casino, 30% of the state’s retail lottery locations were shut down in March.
But rapid growth in PA online lottery play — a 92% increase over the previous year — helped stabilize everything and push the state’s lottery revenues over $1 billion (to $1.14 billion, to be exact) for the ninth straight year. In total, online lottery sales accounted for $731 million, an impressive number that could fuel even more growth for the state lottery in the future. Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko said:
“Although we faced many challenges this fiscal year, we are thrilled the Lottery had another successful year … We generated over $1 billion in profit for the vital programs that older Pennsylvanians rely on throughout the commonwealth.”
Pennsylvania is the only state lottery that directs all revenues to programs that benefit older residents. Lottery revenues are used for property tax and rent rebates, transportation, care services, prescription assistance and other programs that include senior centers and meals.
Scratch-off sales rise to a record high
Even with several retail locations closed for weeks in the spring, the PA Lottery recorded $3.2 billion in scratch-off ticket sales. That number was $213.5 million, or 7% higher than the previous record of $2.9 billion in 2018-2019. Scratch-off revenues account for about 72% of total sales.
The growth in scratch-off earnings helped offset a decrease in revenue from draw games, which include the PICK family of contests, Wild Ball, Treasure Hunt, Cash 5, Match 6 Lotto, Millionaire Raffle, Cash4Life, Powerball and Mega Millions.
Draw game sales still reached $1.1 billion, but that total was a decrease of $253.8 million, or 18.6%, from the previous year. In addition to the closure of certain locations, one of the contributing factors was that there were no record jackpots in multistate Powerball or Mega Millions games to drive sales.
Monitor games achieve modest growth
Another optimistic development was a slight increase in the state’s monitor games, which include Keno and XPress Sports.
Even though those games rely heavily on brick-and-mortar locations — some of which were closed for stretches of the fiscal year — monitor games totaled $53.7 million in sales, an increase of almost $7 million, or 15%, over the previous year.
PA Lottery winners receive record payouts
The state lottery paid out a record $2.9 billion to winners of traditional games this past fiscal year. That was an increase of nearly $481,000 over 2018-2019. In total, there were 79 tickets of $1 million or more paid out to traditional game winners.
And iLottery players won $639 million in prizes, including a $1 million Mega Millions jackpot for a player who bought a Mega Millions ticket on pailottery.com.
The state’s licensed lottery retailers also received in estimated $257 million in sales commissions.
New online draw tickets and Steelers/Eagles second-chance prizes
Although this fiscal year figures to be another challenging one for the state lottery, officials are working hard to keep its programs and revenue growing.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Lottery announced that players can now purchase Cash4Life and Treasure Hunt tickets online at pailottery.com in addition to Mega Millions and Powerball.
Those who purchase Cash4Life and Treasure Hunt tickets online will find many of the same features available as with traditional tickets. Players can choose their own numbers or select Quick Pick randomly selected numbers. There are also options to purchase multiple tickets and advance draws. Mega Millions and Powerball tickets became available for purchase online back in January.
And for football fans, the state lottery recently teamed up with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles for second-chance drawings on the state’s $5 Fast Play tickets. Now through Oct. 8, players can enter nonwinning $5 Fast Play tickets into the second-chance drawing. Prizes in those drawings include tickets to Steelers or Eagles games and special events. Players can also win autographed memorabilia and bonus money from the iLottery.
To enter the second-chance drawing, players should visit the VIP Players Club at the PA Lottery’s website. They can also scan their tickets using the Pennsylvania Lottery app.
Lottery stays strong for PA seniors
It’s hard to predict what this year will bring for the PA Lottery. But you can expect that many segments of its business will continue to grow. And once again, older residents of Pennsylvania will reap the rewards.
Maybe it won’t always be pretty.
But the lottery will win in the end, generating prizes for its players and revenue for various state programs.
Just as it always has.