Prize winners cut into lottery’s November profits

Massachusetts
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BOSTON (SHNS) – Lottery players came calling for their winnings in November, contributing to a $13.7 million drop in profit compared to November 2016 despite what was otherwise “overall a good month” for sales.

Estimated profit for November was $94.6 million, compared to $108.3 million the same month in 2016, Massachusetts Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney told the Lottery Commission on Tuesday. He said the Lottery’s prize payout percentage –the percentage of revenue that is returned to players as prizes — was “a very high” 73.46 percent compared to 70.57 last November due to “a high rate of cashing.”

“It was kind of funny, last year towards the end of the fiscal year everyone was kind of wondering, ‘where are the winners?’,” Sweeney said. “Apparently we found them; they all came in in November of this year. It’s just one of those things you can’t predict … when people are going to bring them in.”

Through five months of fiscal year 2018 Lottery profits are trending worse than in the record fiscal 2017 to the tune of $23.2 million, though Lottery officials said the agency is “still very much on track” to hit its annual revenue projection of $968 million.

Not only did lots of players claim prizes in November, but two players claimed significant prizes. Winners came forward last month to claim a $200,000-a-year-for-life prize and a $36,000-a-year-for-life prize, Sweeney said.

“The accruals on just those two prizes alone in November is approximately $5 million, so just a little less than a fourth of that $23 million number is the result of just two prize cashes that came in,” he said.

Despite the sour news on the profit front, Sweeney told the commission Tuesday that overall Lottery sales last month were up $1.6 million over the previous November and that gross sales are up $39 million or 1.8 percent so far this fiscal year.

Through eight weeks of holiday-themed instant ticket sales, the Lottery’s Nutcracker- and present-themed scratch tickets are selling at a lower rate than in 2016. The $525,375,642 in sales so far this year represent a 1.6 percent decline over the first eight weeks of holiday ticket sales last year, though sales of all Lottery products during the same time were flat.

Lottery profits will likely fall from $968 million projected for this fiscal year to $965 million in fiscal year 2019, Treasurer Deborah Goldberg told the House and Senate Ways and Means committees earlier this month.

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