A record-setting year for Mass. lottery, but a cautious eye on the future
BOSTON — For the fifth consecutive year, sales at the Massachusetts Lottery surpassed the high-water mark last fiscal year, and the Lottery expects to return to the state $986.9 million in net profit, the largest sum in its history, Lottery officials announced Monday.
Estimated sales of $5.231 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30 eclipsed the previous record of $5.014 billion set last year by $217 million, the Lottery said.
Presenting the sales and profit figures to the Lottery Commission on Monday morning, Executive Director Michael Sweeney said the figures are the latest in a run of year-over-year increases.
"This marks the fifth consecutive year of record-setting sales for the Massachusetts Lottery," Sweeney said.
Sweeney said the record-setting sales figures are "the result of the team effort by Lottery employees and our expansive network of retail partners across the state. He added, "We're delighted to see that cities and towns, Lottery players and our retailers all saw some great returns again this year."
The roughly $987 million that is expected to be distributed as local aid is also a record, eclipsing the previous record by $1 million.
"Given the increased challenges that we face, I am extremely pleased with our record number. To me, this is a mission-driven organization," Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said. "This is about getting funds back to every city and town in the entire state. We're talking about people, we're talking about crossing guards, we're talking about extra aides in the schools, we're talking about true basic local aid."
The sales and profit figures reported Monday are estimates, officials said, and a finalized report on fiscal 2016 is expected to be completed by mid-September.
Setting another record, Lottery retailers earned $299.5 million in commissions and bonuses in fiscal 2016, besting the previous $286.7 million record set the previous year. And the Lottery spent roughly $103.3 million on administrative costs in fiscal 2016, about two percent of the agency's total revenue and the lowest of any lottery in the nation.
But the Lottery set one record that Lottery officials aren't necessarily jumping up and down about. The Lottery paid out a record $3.842 billion in prizes last fiscal year -- equal to 73.4 percent of all revenue, the highest payout percentage of any lottery in the country, according to Massachusetts officials.
"If you looked at the overall numbers for the year, for example, a lot of our profit was driven by Powerball last January, and we can't always predict payouts," Goldberg said, referring to the world record $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in January. "I don't like seeing what I consider flat sales growth or flat profits and increased payout percentages and these are thing we have to constantly be looking at and thinking about what does the future look like."
The future for the Lottery, Goldberg said, may be online. Last week, the Senate authorized the Lottery to expand into cyberspace as part of an economic development bill it passed. That authorization will now be part of conference committee negotiations between the House and Senate.
Goldberg late last year cautioned lawmakers that the recent string of record-level Lottery sales will not continue unless the Lottery adapts to compete with the state's growing casino gaming industry and daily fantasy sports contests.
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