Hoosier Lottery scratch-off sales have been a significant gaming industry outlier during COVID-19, officials revealed this month.
While aspects of the industry have been crushed by the pandemic’s long-lasting effects, scratch-off sales in Indiana have reached record heights.
Scratch-offs sold more than $1.09 billion during the lottery’s 2020 fiscal year (July 2019 to June 2020). It’s the first time scratch-off sales have exceeded $1 billion in its 30-year history.
It was roughly $100 million better than predicted by lottery officials.
COVID-19 gives lottery officials an unexpected boost
The historic year for scratch-off sales was the second straight record-setting year for the Hoosier Lottery.
Scratch-off sales totaled just over $974 million in the previous fiscal year, which was up to that point a state record.
On its face, it would have seemed unlikely 2020 would overtake 2019, considering the in-person nature of scratch-off sales.
But with casinos closing, sports leagues shuttered, and other gaming avenues diminished, scratch-off games were left as the best remaining option for many gamblers.
Combine that with the fact that many places selling scratch-offs – including gas stations and grocery stores – were allowed to stay open, and the games saw a historic year.
Also playing a role was the lessened impact of competing options like Powerball jackpots.
The year was better than projections made as recently as May.
Creating the most sales were $5 scratch-off tickets, at $300 million. The second-most popular are $10 tickets, which accounted for $275 million in sales.
Hoosier Lottery Chief of Staff Carrie Stroud called the financial results “just a really great way to end up fiscal year ‘20 with such turmoil and uncertainty throughout the year.” Her comments came during August’s State Lottery Commission meeting.
Even with businesses reopening, scratch games continue to lead the charge. July’s sales beat predictions by nearly 25%.
Public causes boosted by lottery funds
In total, the lottery generated roughly $304 million for the state government during its latest fiscal year.
The 2020 fiscal year revenue was around $212,000 above the lottery’s budget goal. It was, however, a drop from the record $312 million given to the state treasury in the 2019 fiscal year.
That money is deposited into the state’s general fund each year. It boosts multiple public causes:
- Police, fire pensions
- Teacher retirements
- Tax reduction
During 2019’s fiscal year, for instance, the lottery provided $60 million split evenly between police and firefighter pensions and the teachers’ retirement fund.
A sum of nearly $249 million went to the Build Indiana Fund. The fund helps reduce motor vehicle excise taxes, while also funding improved technology at schools and libraries.
Meanwhile, IGT, which operates Hoosier Lottery, generated $309 million in net income.
IGT’s COO, Melissa Pursley, said in public comments that “players turned to the Hoosier Lottery as an added form of entertainment as many entertainment options were closed to them for public safety.”
That annual figure has a significant impact on the lottery’s bottom line.
If net income falls below $300 million, IGT must provide a shortfall payment. If it hits $310 million, then the lottery is on the hook for a bonus payment to IGT.
Instead, IGT finished its latest year in the established middle ground.