State Lottery officials reported this week sales have dropped off steeply on lottery products across the board, and if that drop continues, it could have a major effect on Local Aid payments to cities and towns this year.
That news comes just as worried municipalities begin to put together City or Town Budgets in one of the most uncertain times on record. Budgets always have relied on Local Aid payments from the state, which come from a variety of sources. However, lottery disbursements were always a steady and reliable stream within the Local Aid formula – even in tough times.
However, the lottery products are mostly based on physically going to a retailer, and with many stores closed and social distancing in place for those that aren’t, it’s a tougher sell. That combined with tremendous job loss in the last four weeks has led to steep declines.
“The health and well-being of Lottery employees and residents of the Commonwealth are our top priority and the Lottery will continue to follow the guidance and orders of state and federal officials regarding public health and safety,” said Michael Sweeney, executive director of the Massachusetts State Lottery, on Tuesday. “Representative of the whole economy, Lottery revenues have decreased significantly over the last three weeks. This will affect the revenue returned to the state and could potentially impact unrestricted local aid returned to cities and towns. The decreased sales and revenue production will also negatively impact the small business owners who are increasingly under financial duress. As an in-store cash-only business, with a stay-at-home advisory currently in place and many of our retail partners being closed, we anticipate that these figures will continue to be drastically lower than usual.”
Since the week beginning on March 1 – which featured fairly “normal” Lottery sales, the overall Lottery products are down 29 percent. That meant sales went from $111.6 million during that week, to $78.9 million the week beginning March 22.
Overall, Keno sales are down the most, dropping 52 percent since the beginning of March. Instant tickets were down 24 percent,, while numbers game sales were down only 17 percent.
Below are the weekly sales numbers from the Lottery for March:
•March 1-7: $111.6 million
•March 8-14: $110.2 million
•March 15-21: $88.7 million •March 22-28: $78.9 million