Northeastern Pennsylvania contributed to the state Lottery Commission’s record-breaking sales in fiscal year 2012-13, which resulted in $3.69 billion in revenue representing a 6 percent annual increase.
“I think more people are playing,” said Bob McDade, of Hanover Township, as he cashed in some Cash 5 winners and purchased some potential winners at Leo Matus News Stand in Wilkes-Barre on Monday. “I enjoy it. It’s the thrill of the hunt.”
According to annual Lottery Commission reports:
• Lottery sales increased by $684,531, or 13.8 percent, in Wyoming County.
• Lackawanna County lottery sales jumped $7.665 million, or 9.5 percent.
• In Luzerne County, lottery sales rose $7.33 million, or 6 percent, mirroring the state average.
• Luzerne County’s lottery sales, at $127.9 million, ranked seventh of the 67 counties in the state. Lackawanna, at $88 million, ranked 13th in the state. Rural Wyoming County, at $5.6 million, was one of the lowest totals in the state, ranking 60th.
Profits up statewide
Pennsylvania’s total lottery sales climbed by almost $219 million, though profits were up by just a fraction of that amount – only $6 million. According to lottery records, payouts in the last fiscal year were also up — by $197 million.
The lottery players’ changing preferences in games are playing a factor, said Elizabeth Brassell, press secretary for the state Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery.
“Sales grew 6.3 percent over the prior year and net revenues grew by a little more than half-a-percent, due to higher prize payouts this year and continued player preference toward lower-margin instant games,” Brassell said.
According to the lottery, instant game sales for the fiscal year totaled $2.31 billion, which was $170.52 million, or 7.9 percent, higher than the previous year. Instant games accounted for 62.3 percent of fiscal year 2012-13 sales, a 1 percent increase over 2011-12.
Mike McLaughlin, of Pittston Township, was cashing in a $40 winning Double Diamonds scratch off ticket on Monday and using half the winnings to buy two more instant games. “The rest I’ll use for dinner,” he said.
McLaughlin estimated he spends on average about $10 per day on the lottery. He noted that he won a $37,000 prize on Cash 5 a few years back.
When told about the record sales year, he said it’s possibly a sign “that the economy is getting better and people are playing more.”
Terminal-based games gain
Sales for terminal-based games – which include The Daily Number, Cash 5, Powerball and Mega Millions – totaled more than $1.39 billion for the fiscal year, which was $48.24 million, or 3.6 percent, above the previous year.
The profits on the lottery statewide were $1.067 billion, a $6.49 million or 0.6 percent rise over the previous fiscal year.
“While profit growth over the prior year was modest, growth is good, nonetheless,” Brassell said.
The lottery was in the headlines for most of the past year for a different kind of sale.
Gov. Tom Corbett tried to enter into a private management agreement last year with Camelot Global Services, a British firm that promised to boost profits. But Kathleen Kane, the state attorney general, refused to approve the contract, saying state law doesn’t allow the governor to privatize management of the lottery.
The issue is still on the table as the governor has never said he’ll stop pursuing the contract.
“We’re still going through the contract, trying to address Attorney General Kane’s concerns,” Brassell said.
The experience was a learning one for the lottery, she added.
“Moving forward, we’re excited to take what we learned through the (private management agreement) process last year to incrementally grow sales in future years by hundreds of millions of dollars, to keep up with the demand a dramatically growing population of seniors will put on lottery programs.”
Lottery profits are used exclusively to fund programs for older Pennsylvanians, including meals at senior centers, a property tax and rent rebate program, prescription drug assistance and reduced or free public transportation. The fiscal year runs July 1 to June 30.