BOSTON (SHNS) – Profits at the Massachusetts Lottery are running about $100 million ahead of last year and the agency appears poised to return nearly $1 billion in local aid to cities and towns.
The Lottery sold $448.8 million worth of its various products last month, up $3.2 million or 0.8 percent over March 2018. Of that amount, 71.17 percent or roughly $319.4 million was returned to players as winnings and the Lottery reported an estimated profit of $94.1 million.
Executive Director Michael Sweeney told the Lottery Commission on Tuesday that March’s profit was almost $30 million greater than the Lottery’s profit in March 2018, due in part to a significant drop in the amount of scratch ticket winnings players claimed last month.
Through three-quarters of fiscal year 2019, the Lottery has generated an estimated profit of $839.3 million, which is $100.8 million ahead of its pace from last fiscal year. Year-to-date sales are $195.2 million or 5 percent ahead of last fiscal year.
Helping to drive the increased profits, the Lottery said, is “a significant increase in Mega Millions sales ($54.9 million increase over the first nine months of FY18) and an increase in Keno sales ($53.3 million increase over FY18) over the first nine months of FY19.”
After raking in a record $1.035 billion in fiscal year 2017, annual Lottery profits — which are always eyed by lawmakers and local officials for annual local aid increases — dipped in fiscal 2018 to $997 million. Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and the Lottery had told lawmakers that the Lottery would take in $966 million in profits this fiscal year.
Last month, Sweeney revised the Lottery’s estimate for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, upwards. He said the agency now expects a net profit of $995 million.
“I don’t want to get too far out there … I’d say we have a good probability of crossing the billion dollar profit threshold,” he said in March.
Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who chairs the Lottery Commission, has been appealing to the Legislature for years to authorize the Lottery to move its products online, asserting the agency is at risk of shedding profits and not appealing to all gamblers.