While some Indiana businesses may have dealt with an economic downturn over the past few months, the Hoosier Lottery was apparently not part of that group. In the category of scratch-off tickets, revenue has never been better.
From July 2019 through June 2020, the Indiana lottery recorded scratch-off sales of over $1.09 billion. Lottery officials believe the COVID-19 pandemic actually had a positive impact on those products.
Indiana lottery sales buoyed by a scratch-off frenzy
Hoosier Lottery officials said the $1.09 billion figure was 10.5% better than their projections for the year.
Year-over-year, scratch-off game sales increased by 12.1%, or about $118.1 million. That helped the lottery record a total of $1.38 billion in sales for the year across all verticals.
That total was a slight increase from 2019’s total of $1.3 billion. The record scratch-off sales also led to unprecedented payouts for players.
Players collected just about two-thirds of sales, which ended up being $914.2 million in winnings. That amount was 63.8% higher than last year’s total, cutting into the lottery’s actual revenue.
Last year, the lottery transferred a record $312 million to the state treasury. This year, that total dropped to $304.6 million. The record scratch-off sales also weren’t enough to warrant some extra revenue for another stakeholder.
IGT manages the games for the lottery. As part of its contract, the lottery makes a bonus payment to IGT if net income in a fiscal year hits $310 million. This year, that figure was just short of that mark at $309.3 million.
Still, the record-breaking year for scratch-off games is good news for the lottery, as it has continued into the current fiscal year. It’s also possibly a small silver lining of the pandemic.
How the pandemic actually increased scratch-off sales
As brick-and-mortar casinos closed and sporting events didn’t take place, there were few other options for gambling in the Hoosier State for months. The pandemic also shuttered many other entertainment venues like movie theaters.
Additionally, scratch-off retailers were, for the most part, considered essential businesses throughout the pandemic and never closed their doors. For all those reasons, Indianans might have flocked to buy scratch-off tickets simply because they were the “only show in town.”
Scratch-off tickets also tend to be popular because of their instant-win properties. That’s what likely allowed them to flourish while draw-style games offered by the Multistate Lottery Corporation were stymied.
Curtailed jackpots and diminished rolls also played a big part in sales shifting to scratch-off games, however. Powerball, for example, cut its starting jackpots in half and its rolls increased to just 20% of their usual amount.
Scratch-off tickets seem to be on pace to keep making up for those shortfalls, however. The lottery said sales in that category during July of this year exceeded expectations by 24%.
If that trend continues, the lottery in Indiana could see a new record sales figure for scratch-off tickets at the end of the current fiscal year. Accordingly, lottery players in the state could enjoy record winnings as well.