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December 28, 2022

National draw games a saving grace for Mass. Lottery

Photo | Google Maps Massachusetts Lottery offices in Worcester

A record Powerball jackpot proved to be a windfall not just for the winning ticket-holder, but for the Massachusetts Lottery, too.

After months of sluggish sales, the latest fiscal year-to-date figure of $2.55 billion in Mass. Lottery products sold is only about $11.6 million -- or one half of one percentage point -- behind the same stretch during fiscal year 2022, Lottery Interim Executive Director Mark William Bracken said during a Tuesday meeting of the Lottery Commission.

The gap between this year's sales and last year's has closed considerably in the past couple of months from more than $60 million reported through the end of September, but that might be an outlier fueled by the more than $2 billion Powerball jackpot that attracted swaths of players.

In November 2022, the Massachusetts Lottery sold about $58.6 million in Powerball tickets, reflecting $48.9 million more than November 2021, or a roughly sixfold increase.

The only other Lottery games with meaningful sales increases from November 2021 to November 2022 were Mega Millions, which sold $4.3 million or 85 percent more, and Keno, which sold $1.3 million or 1.1 percent more.

Instant tickets, which make up the majority of all Lottery sales, have fared more poorly. The Lotto sold $11.2 million less in instant tickets last month than in November 2021, a 3 percent drop. Since the start of fiscal year 2023, the Lotto has sold close to $1.63 billion worth of instant tickets, which is $87.6 million or 5.1 percent behind the pace set during the same period last year.

Bracken called Powerball and Mega Millions the Lottery's "saving grace" amid slowdowns in other sales.

Officials are hopeful, meanwhile, that a brand-new, record-breaking game will help drive new interest. The Lottery will launch its first-ever $50 scratch ticket, titled "Billion Dollar Extravaganza," on Feb. 7.

Altogether, the game will offer more than $1 billion in total winnings, headlined by three $25 million top prizes that are the largest the Massachusetts Lottery has ever included on an instant ticket. The game will also feature five $2 million prizes and 15 prizes worth $1 million.

"This will be the best chance to win $500 and $1,000 in the history of the Massachusetts Lottery," Bracken said.

Officials say the $50 ticket's 82 percent prize payout is the highest percentage of any game the state lottery has ever offered, and the minimum prize will be $100, meaning every winner will do better than breaking even on a single ticket.

The priciest instant ticket the Lottery sells now costs players $30.

Bracken said officials are "very, very excited to be joining the 14 or 15 or so other states that already have a $50 price point out in the market."

"It's something that our players and our agents tell us time and time again, almost in every single focus group, 'Why have you not launched the $50 ticket?' We never thought it was the right time," he said.

Mass. Lottery Chief Marketing Officer Edward Farley said the agency "literally turned this ticket upside down" workshopping it before its launch.

"As the Lottery's 50th anniversary celebration approaches the end, what better time to introduce the $50 ticket to begin our next 50 years!" added Treasurer Deborah Goldberg in a statement. "Our customers had been requesting this ticket for some time. After careful consideration, the Lottery has what we believe will provide them with the entirely new level of excitement they have been seeking."

The commission projects that the Lottery will sell more than $1.5 billion in "Billion Dollar Extravaganza" games, which would generate more than $150 million in net profit, which gets returned to all 351 cities and towns as unrestricted local aid.

December featured another Lottery milestone, too. During the first week of the month, it surpassed $50 million in claims cashed through the Massachusetts Lottery mobile app, which launched in September 2021.

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