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Despite the massive ticket sales generated by the recent Powerball jackpot worth $2 billion, the Massachusetts State Lottery announced on Tuesday that it may be in financial trouble for the fiscal year.
According to Lottery Interim Director Mark Bracken, lottery sales for the fiscal year 2023 are $22.5 million lower than they were in fiscal 2022 as of Sunday. This includes overall instant ticket and scratch ticket sales, but it's an improvement over the $60 million gap between the fiscal years ending in September 2023 and 2022.
Bracken believes the increase in sales in October was an outlier due to the recent $2 billion Powerball jackpot drawing at the end of the month.
"We are still very concerned about our current fiscal year sales," Bracken said. "The only reason our sales have increased slightly is due to the Powerball jackpot. Right now, we're seeing that our sales are really indicative of jackpot-driven games rather than games over which we have control."
According to figures Bracken presented to the Lottery Commission on Tuesday, the Lottery sold a total of $439.9 million in products in October 2022, an increase of $8.3 million or 1.9 percent over October 2021.
The Lottery sold $439.9 million in products in October 2022, an $8.3 million increase over October 2021, with Powerball accounting for the majority of the increase. The Lottery also paid out $5.8 million fewer prizes in October compared to the previous year, and the Lottery's net profit in October was $90.1 million when sales increased and prize payments decreased.
Despite the lurch in sales, a general slowdown in sales has had a significant impact on the organization. Lottery sales were down $52.3 million in the first four months of the fiscal year 2023, a 2.6% decrease from the same period in the previous year. Although November 2022 sales have not yet been released, Bracken expects the year-to-date sales shortfall to be reduced to just $22.5 million.
Bracken stated that the upcoming holiday season is "really our most popular release of instant tickets," and that the expected increase in scratch ticket sales could help the organization. To boost scratch ticket sales through December, the Lottery is also experimenting with a new advertising slogan, "The best gifts are made from scratch."
The Lottery is also introducing a new game called "The Wheel of Luck" to replace its unpopular "All or Nothing" drawing game, which will begin on January 19, 2023.
Some Massachusetts officials have previously stated that the slowdown is the result of rising inflation, as well as other "broader market trends affecting other state lotteries."
Bracken said that the Lottery may request the incoming Maura Healey administration to boost its advertising budget to $10 million from its current $4.5 million, especially given the Lottery is a major source of local aid that state and local governments are dependent on.
"For the amount of revenue we bring in, compared to our advertising budget, we are the lowest (state lottery) advertising budget in the nation other than one state that does not have an advertising budget," Bracken said.
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