Lottery Continues to Set Revenue Records Heading into Holidays

The Ohio Lottery is raking in revenue at record rates ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas, Finance Director Greg Bowers told the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) during its most recent meeting.

“We surpassed the $1 billion sales mark for traditional sales on Oct. 1 of this year. That’s the fastest of any point in our history. Typically, this happens toward the end of October, and last year we passed the $1 billion mark on the 25th,” Bowers said. “For the first four months of the fiscal year, total profits generated for the education fund were $418.4 million, or $27.3 million higher than our budget and $23.7 million more than the first four months of the last fiscal year.”

Traditional lottery game sales for October 2020 were $330.9 million, which was $60.7 million, or 22.5 percent more than sales generated last October, he said.

“Once again, sales from scratch-off games were the primary reason for the increase, as sales for that category increased $39.6 million, or 28.9 percent over the same month last year. It set a record for the month of October, which was previously held last October. In fact, it was the sixth-highest monthly sales on record since our inception,” Bowers said.

“Thus far, through the first five weeks beginning in mid-October, sales from all holiday-themed games were up 15.5 percent against last year. Holiday-themed instant tickets are an important barometer on the state of scratch-off ticket sales for the year, and thus far are performing very well,” Bowers added.

Daily numbers games -- Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 5 -- were up over last year by $14.8 million, or 27.4 percent. Games played in social-type environments such as Keno and Lucky One were up by $6.7 million, or 16.3 percent.

Bowers said the numbers from all games have been relatively consistent over the last three months.

“However, we are finally seeing some momentum in our multi-state jackpot games as jackpots are beginning to grow. Mega Millions is at $188 million and Powerball is at $179 million. So hopefully we’ll see some positive trends in these games when I report next month,” Bowers said.

He said high payouts did eat into some of the profits, however.

“Prize expense for Pick 3 unfortunately was unusually high for the month, paying out 80.6 percent of sales, and that’s compared to the game’s payout design matrix of 50 percent. So as a result of all this, profit for the month of October was $97.2 million, $2.2 million more than our original estimate and $4.1 million more than last October,” Bowers said.

Ohio Lottery Executive Director Pat McDonald discussed agency priorities moving forward.

“We have planned to expand our digital presence,” he said, noting that the Ohio Lottery’s mobile app has more than 1.1 million registered users. “We have experienced significant user growth over the past few years. The digital platform is a key to reaching new and existing customers and gathering key consumer insight that can be leveraged for promotional campaigns and product research and development.”

Another initiative is a new pilot program for scratch-offs, he said.

“We are going to start putting in small bins with five to 10 scratch-off tickets at bars and restaurants,” McDonald said.

Asked by Commissioner James Brady about how the DeWine administration’s order closing bars early is affecting lottery sales, McDonald said it’s been “minimal.”

“I was surprised. But if you sit back and think about it, the bars and restaurants, when they’re open until 2 or 2:30 [a.m.], they are crowded, they’re young people. They’re not really our player type. … Our players are more the 5-7 [p.m.] type who just get off of work and play our machines,” McDonald said.

“So it’s old people like us,” Brady said.

Story originally published in The Hannah Report on November 23, 2020.  Copyright 2020 Hannah News Service, Inc.