Maryland Lottery Sales Jump 20% Despite COVID-19

  • Figures have been higher than for 2019 every week since May 10
  • Fiscal year 2020 projected to end with $583m in profit for Maryland Lottery
  • Casino revenue in the state expected to continue downward trend
  • Georgia also saw online lottery usage jump 50% between April and May
colored lottery balls against an orange backdrop
Maryland Lottery sales figures for 2020 rose 20% higher than last year’s despite the effects of COVID-19. [Image:]

Lottery sales get a boost

2020 lottery sales in Maryland have increased by more than 20% compared to 2019 despite the outbreak of COVID-19, according to Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency director Gordon Medenica.

higher than last year’s every week since May 10

Medenica spoke during a virtual House Ways and Means Committee, where he pointed out that lottery sales in the state have been higher than last year’s every week since May 10.

Fiscal year profit

Following the stay-at-home order in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, Maryland lottery sales dropped by 30% after businesses were forced to close their doors. Medenica observed that, while numbers were up during the first week in March, sales eventually started declining from 20% to 30% as more people self-isolated.

a “very strange phenomenon”

Now, with lottery sales on the rise, Medenica attributes the growing figures to the fact that customers are currently unable to spend their “discretionary entertainment dollars” as they would normally on movies, concerts, bars, and restaurants. He reportedly called the increase in sales a “very strange phenomenon”.

With this fresh injection into the state lottery sales, the fiscal year is projected to end with $583m in profit, according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. This is up $12m from a December 2019 prediction. Initial estimations projected a $50m downfall in lottery sales for 2020.

Casinos take a hit

Despite lottery sales improving in recent weeks, revenue from Maryland casinos is likely to continue in a downward trend. Medenica told lawmakers:

I think we have to expect a long-term lowering of our expected casino operation revenues.”

However, he added that while casino capacity is limited to 50%, he does not foresee a 50% drop in revenue.

According to Medenica, casinos in the state normally generate $60m a month. However, he said this figure stood at $30m in March and hit zero in April and May, while June generated roughly $13m. Revenue figures for July aren’t expected until August 5.

Georgia Lottery record

Maryland isn’t the only state that is experiencing a boost in lottery sales. Earlier this month, Georgia saw online lottery usage jump 50% in April and early May.

As a result, profits delivered to the Peach State reached a record high of $1.24bn in the budget year ending June 30. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, many Georgians have been turning to online options to purchase tickets and gamble at home.

Notably, even though this is the ninth consecutive year that the lottery has posted sales and profit records, state lawmakers continue to avoid legalizing casino gambling or sports betting in Georgia.

Virginia turns to online sales

Since the beginning of July, Virginia Lottery has permitted customers to buy individual tickets for draws such as the Powerball and Mega Millions online. By doing so, Virginia became the seventh US state to offer lottery games online.

Pennsylvania is one state that has seen particular success with its iLottery sales. In May, it reached $1bn after going live less than two years ago.

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