STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
IN THE FISCAL YEAR that ended June 30, the Massachusetts Lottery brought in more revenue than ever before, paid out more in prizes than any previous year, and expects to return a record high profit of $1.176 billion for the state to dole out to all 351 communities as local aid, Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and the Lottery Commission announced Tuesday.
Fiscal year 2023 saw the Lottery haul in $6.131 billion in sales revenue, surpassing the $6 billion mark for the first time in the Lottery’s 51-year existence and topping the previous record of $5.863 billion set in fiscal 2022 by about $268 million. Contributing to that pile were record-high scratch ticket sales ($4.043 billion) and record-high Keno sales ($1.226 billion).
After accounting for an estimated $4.483 billion in prizes, which bested the previous high of $4.309 billion paid out in fiscal 2022, paying a record high $350 million in commissions and bonuses to retailers, and covering administrative costs that equaled about 2 percent of revenue, the Lottery expects to be left with the record $1.176 billion in net profit. That’s enough to overtake the previous record of $1.112 billion set in fiscal 2021.
It is also enough to beat the projected $1 billion in net profit that Goldberg and Lottery officials told state lawmakers they could expect the Lottery to generate for local aid in fiscal 2023. Based on that lower projection, the fiscal 2023 budget included $1.231 billion in unrestricted general government aid. The Lottery’s higher actual total could be a boon for cities and towns, which are waiting for state lawmakers to finish work and release funds associated with an annual road and bridge maintenance bill, and to finalize other key local aid accounts in the fiscal 2024 state budget.
“I am proud of the performance of our team and want to thank our retail partners and our customers as we face mounting challenges in the marketplace,” Goldberg said. “Because of everyone’s efforts, we are able to meet our mission of providing critical local aid to all 351 communities in the state.”
With residents showing a steady willingness to shell out their money for a chance to win big, Goldberg has long supported making the Lottery’s offerings available online and this year the Massachusetts House added online Lottery authorization to its fiscal 2024 budget. The Senate rejected the idea, which House officials estimate will produce $200 million in new revenue, and the measure is tied up in prolonged and private budget negotiations.
The fiscal 2023 numbers will still need to be audited, but Lottery Executive Director Mark William Bracken said he does not expect them to change substantially by the time the audit is completed in September.
Sales of scratch tickets, which generally account for 65 to 70 percent of all Lottery sales, totaled a record $4.043 billion, up 3 percent over the previous year. Bracken said the Lottery’s February launch of a $50 scratch ticket bolstered instant ticket sales as the “Billion Dollar Extravaganza” ticket accounted for more than half a billion dollars in sales.
The multi-state draw games also helped push the Mass. Lottery into record-setting territory last fiscal year. With two jackpots that rose above $1 billion, Mega Millions sales of $159.5 million were 116 percent ahead of fiscal 2022 and $169.7 million in sales for Powerball, which had its first-ever $2 billion jackpot in November, was up 31 percent, the Lottery said.
Lottery players won 145 prizes worth $1 million or more in fiscal year 2023, including Mega Millions jackpots of $33 million and $31 million.
The one black spot on the Lottery’s year was the successful federal prosecution of a father and two sons who were involved in a tax fraud conspiracy that involved dozens of lottery agents across Massachusetts. The three individuals purchased more than 14,000 winning lottery tickets worth $20 million between 2011 and 2020 from winners who were willing to settle for less to avoid making a claim to the Lottery, which is required to withhold taxes and child support payments that are owed before paying out prizes. The three individuals claimed fake gambling losses to reduce their tax liability by about $6 million, and carried out the scheme with the help of 40 lottery agents who are expected to have their licenses revoked or suspended.