lottery

Missouri Lottery revenue has been down in the first five months of the budget year as the best-known games have failed to produce the kind of nine-figure jackpots that create broad public interest and draw long lines at ticket counters.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that since July 1, overall sales are down 3.1%, or $20.3 million.

Lottery Executive Director May Scheve told members of the state lottery commission this week that many people aren’t motivated to buy tickets until they see jaw-dropping jackpots.

“Nobody wants to win $40 million anymore,” she said. “It is of a concern to me.”

Massachusetts, West Virginia and Arkansas are among states also affected by a drop-off in sales.

After two big jackpots last year, sales of Powerball and Mega Millions tickets are down 49.1-percent in Missouri, a nearly $50 million decrease in sales.

“We’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do about it,” Scheve said.

The state usually brings in about $2.5 million per week in Powerball and Mega Millions sales. The weekly average this year is about $1.8 million.

The Lottery is budgeted to contribute $323 million to help pay for elementary, secondary and higher education next year, up from $306 million in 2018.

In addition to the loss of multi-state game sales, lawmakers cut the Lottery’s advertising budget by 70-percent in the fiscal year that began July 1. In response, the Lottery is only running television ads in the St. Louis and Kansas City markets.

In addition, unregulated and untaxed slot machines are spreading across the state, potentially siphoning off Lottery sales.

Lawmakers might consider bills to legalize video gambling in bars, truck stops and convenience stores, or to ban it everywhere, when they return to the Statehouse on Jan. 8.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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