Lottery’s Record $1.1B Year Includes $40M In Lottery Expansion Profit

Written By Kevin Shelly on August 6, 2019 - Last Updated on November 26, 2019

It was a very good year for the Pennsylvania Lottery. In fact, it was the eighth consecutive record-breaking year.

More than $4.5 billion in traditional games were sold over the 2018-19 fiscal year. That’s up by $302.7 million, or 7.2% over the previous year.

According to Lottery spokeswoman Ewa Dworakowski:

“The Pennsylvania Lottery has exceeded its expectations this past fiscal year, thanks to our players, and new and exciting games.”

Seniors benefit from lottery revenue

Profits in 2018-19 generated more than $1.14 billion in funds earmarked for PA seniors.

That’s an increase of $49.6 million from the prior fiscal year. The previous record profit, set in 2015-16 had totaled $1.12 billion. Winners received a record of more than $2.9 billion in prizes, an increase of $193.3 million.

During the past year, 70 players won prizes of $1 million or more.

And in the trickle-down, more than 9,700 licensed Lottery retailers statewide earned an estimated $266 million in sales commissions. That’s an increase of more than $41.8 million from the prior fiscal year.

Online games bring in $40 million in profit

Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko attributed some of the record performance to changes which added new online lottery games:

“We are thrilled that the new and exciting games that were authorized by Act 42 of 2017 are proving to be a tremendous success. We’re always working hard to find innovative ways we can responsibly grow profits to benefit older Pennsylvanians.”

The Lottery’s modernization efforts, including PA iLottery and its monitor games, Keno and Xpress Sports, generated more than $40 million in profits in their first full fiscal year.

Sales through iLottery saw more than $381 million in play in its first full fiscal year, generating an estimated $31.3 million in profit. More than $332 million in prizes were paid out to winners.

Sales of monitor games such as Keno and Xpress Sports games totaled an estimated $46.7 million in their first full fiscal year. They generated an estimated $10 million in profit

Dworakowski said it is too soon to gauge if the state’s new online casino sites will change the lottery’s numbers. A coalition of casinos sued the over the new iLottery games. A court recently denied an injunction to stop online lottery operations in advance of online casino launch, but the case remains in court.

Illegal games of skill still a worry

It may be another record year, but that does not mean that the Pennsylvania Lottery is not still fighting to curb the number of questionably legal games of skill in the state.

“Even though our sales and profits are up from last year, that does not mean there is no impact,,” said Dworakowski. She said the games make it hard to convince retailers to offer games such as Keno and Xpress Sports.

“Our executive director has made this point clear in conversations with legislators while also expressing our concern that Games of Skill are a significant threat to the Lottery and the vital senior programs that it funds.

According to our analysts, as of July 15, 2019 the known count of 5,746 games of skill machines in PA Lottery retailers has a negative impact on statewide yearly Scratch-Off sales of approximately $185.2 million.”

“These machines have the potential to cost the Lottery hundreds of millions of dollars in future harm.”

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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