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Last Updated: September 23, 2022

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The Lottery (Still) Sucks!

Introduction

I have decided that it’s about time for another comprehensive analysis of the state-by-state lotteries so that we can compare them to the last time we did this and see if the situations have improved, which I suspect they mostly haven’t.

Wizard and I have much different takes on the lottery in that he seems to see them as largely a positive because it is money being funneled into the state Governments as a de facto, “Tax on the willing.” While I agree with that, in principle, that the lottery’s overall house edges have to be so high remains baffling to me. I don’t understand why people play the various state lotteries and, overall, I wish that they wouldn’t.

However, another argument can also be made for time value, at least when it comes to drawing tickets, dream value and possibility value.

What I mean by time value is that, if you buy a lottery ticket, then you’re kind of playing from the time that you purchased the ticket until the drawing itself actually happens, right? The drawing itself might only take a minute, but as long as you have the ticket, it could be argued that you are, ‘Playing,’ the game that entire time, which makes it a low cost per hour played as long as you don’t purchase an absurd number of tickets.

Dream value and possibility value are kind of the same thing. Perhaps it is something of an escape for some people who are not well off to think, “What if?” It might be best for people to ignore the fact that those stories don’t always end well, but most people likely go into it thinking they’ll be smarter with their newfound fortune than some previous winners may have been.

Anyway, you can’t win the big one without the ticket, and as long as you have the ticket, you technically have a chance.

I tend to have this perspective on the PowerBall and Mega Millions, but drawings such as the Pick 3 and Pick 4 tend to have similarly terrible house edges and do not have the potential for an amount of money that could permanently change a person’s life, so those tend to annoy me.

In any event, I think that all monies spent on lottery tickets, as far as the individual doing the spending is concerned, would be better spent on something else.

There can also be an argument for social value, at least, in some cases. When the jackpots get big enough, office pools tend to be a popular thing whereby employees will all throw some amount of money into a ticket pool, agreeing to divide the results equally, or proportionately based on contribution, if they happen to hit the big winner or a big winner. As a bonding thing, I must admit that is not so bad.

We had assumed that Covid-19 would be a massive hit to the revenues in our previous study, which is why we did not include any numbers beyond 2019, so the last annual reports we used would have covered as much of 2019 as possible. We are now in 2022, so we should be able to get numbers for all states, or at least most states, that wouldn’t have been significantly decreased by a fall off in spending due to Covid-19 restrictions.

With that, we are going to compare any numbers that we can find with our numbers from the 2019 reports in the previous installment. I think that this is going to be a more reasonable comparison than including numbers from when some states would have been on lockdowns.

I also find the instant tickets particular egregious, in terms of house edge, because they only take a minute to play. They sometimes take less than that for those people who only scan the barcodes.

ANOTHER COMPLAINT

Another complaint I have with the lottery is with these new lottery ticket machines that seem to be virtually everywhere in several states. I don’t see that there are any safeguards, at least not in some of the states, that would actually prevent minors from buying lottery tickets. However, I suspect that age will become a relevant factor when they go to cash them, especially if it is an amount over $600 (or whatever is mandated by the state) such that the tickets have to be mailed or physically presented to a lottery office.

In other words, when minors playing would benefit the lottery, they don’t care. When it comes time for the minor to cash the ticket, the fact that it was purchased by a minor could well void it, though one would think they’d be smart enough to get an adult relative to cash it, instead.

METHODOLOGY AND HIGHLIGHTS

For this installation, we are going to want to use lottery reports from as recently as possible that do not include any time relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, we will use parts of 2020 if the available report and Fiscal period is such that we are not given a choice. If I recall correctly, most of these reports run from June to June, and this being September 2022, we would hope that the majority of these will be available for 2021-2022 by now. If not, we will use what we can get.

As before, we will highlight information related to Instant Ticket returns, by bet amount, as they are listed. We will also compare overall figures to our 2019 figures to see if the returns have gotten better, worse or have stayed about the same.

I believe that either Powerball or Mega Millions, perhaps both, reduced the base prize amount for the game, so as a result, jackpots would increase more slowly as that is applicable as one would presume it is only the truly faithful who buy tickets at the base jackpot point. I guess we will find out, pursuant to revenue, whether or not making a terrible game even worse was a good decision overall.

I’m not going to be including Limited Video Lottery this time as not all states have that. Besides that, much in the way of Limited Video Lottery consists of machines that have house edges that are at least comparable to what is found in casinos. I will also not be including Commercial Casino data because a few states have it such that this is accounted through the lottery department (such as West Virginia) whereas other states have a totally separate department and report.

For the most part, our study is going to be limited mainly to Instant Tickets (Scratch-Offs), Drawing Tickets and Lottery Keno games such as are sometimes broadcast on a closed circuit, depending on the state. Not all states have the Keno games, but as far as I can tell, they are rarely popular anyway.

Alabama

In our previous installment, we noted:

For the time being, and including the time period being reported on this page, the State of Alabama is one of only a few to not have a state lottery.

All of that could be changing as a bill has recently passed the house that would allow the voters in the state to decide whether or not they want a lottery, as well as some limited forms of casino gambling.

There still needs to be a vote on the measure in the state house, but the Senate has similarly passed a bill that detailed the rudiments by which the lottery would be structured. Any Commercial Gambling to come into the state would also be able to be enjoyed by Tribal locations within the state. Generally speaking, the only Native American casinos that require a compact with an individual state are in those states that do not have commercial casinos, or, if the tribe is offering something not offered in state commercial casinos.

As it was then, so it still remains. I wouldn’t be surprised, even if they get the ball rolling on it this year, for us to have a full year of data on any theoretical Alabama Lottery any earlier than 2024…and even that might not be a full year’s reporting.

In any event, their lottery revenues went from $0 to $0.

Alaska

Similarly, Alaska remains one of the few states not to have a state lottery. There is a sort of pseudo lottery that raises money for non-profits, but that is not managed by the state directly. Their structure is at least interesting as, the more you spend the greater the number of tickets you receive, so big spenders would necessarily get a better value on a per ticket basis than people who are spending less.

That said, the structure is such that 30% of the week’s contributions go towards the lottery jackpot and 50%, they report, are for costs and to go to non-profits. With that, it would seem that only 20% is returned in non-jackpot prizes, so that’s obviously pretty terrible for players.

One of the reasons that we supposed Alaska might not have a state lottery before is because distribution could potentially be difficult, especially when it comes to instant tickets. That said, many lotteries now have websites which can even sometimes include other types of games, so that might be a potential solution for Alaska to have a meaningful state lottery.

Either that, or I suppose just doing Powerball and Mega Millions would be an option. Other than perhaps one of the ticket printers breaking and shipping printer paper, there really wouldn’t be as much in the way of distribution challenges.

In any case, as far as the state is itself concerned, it goes from $0 to $0.

Arizona

We have the 2021 Fiscal Year report for the State of Arizona available, so we will be able to compare what we find to our previous study. Here is what we found previously:

Total ticket sales were $1,076,621,414, which, as mentioned, is safely over a billion dollars in total sales. Total prizes were $706,491,066, so the total return to player, considering all games (because we have no other choice) was 65.62%.

Instant ticket sales were $750,278,323 and the lottery also has something called, "Instant tab," that accounted for $9,913,074 in sales. In total, $760,191,397 in sales were some form of Instant Games, which leaves $316,430,017 in total drawing ticket game sales, of which roughly 214M were either Powerball or Mega Millions.

Total losses to the lottery were 1076621414-706491066 = $370,130,348, which based on an estimated population of 7.279M, result in lottery losses of about $50.85/resident.

This time around, total ticket sales were about $1,439,400,000, which reflects an increase of 1.33696021766 or about 33.696% increase to total sales revenue compared to our previous study.

Instant ticket sales were about $1,109,800,000, which reflects an increase of about 47.198% compared to our previous study.

Unfortunately, Arizona continues not to differentiate prizes as a line item, much less to actually offer a full breakdown of Instant Tickets by denomination, so we are left only to make a generalization. We find that about 977,800,000 was paid out in prizes, so that represents an overall loss to player of about 461,600,000, which itself would reflect a return to player of 67.931% overall.

Compared to our previous study, the return to player went up by about 2.31%, which I would not attribute to the games themselves being better, but would more likely attribute to the percentage of instant tickets sold, relative to total sales, being greater than it was before.

In the previous study, about 69.688% of all sales were of Instant Tickets, so when we compare that to Fiscal Year 2021, we find that 77.10% of all sales were of Instant Tickets. Given this difference of nearly 7.5%, and the fact that we know Instant Tickets have a better RTP than drawing tickets, we conclude that the increase in total RTP is simply due to more Instant Tickets being sold relative to drawing tickets.

In any event, players would have lost about $461,601,186 to the Arizona lottery for fiscal year 2021; the population of Arizona is about 7,174,000, so we ultimately see a loss to the lottery, via Instant and Drawing tickets, of about $64.34 that year.

Ultimately, we find that residents losing $64.34 compared to $50.85 represents something like a 26.53% increase in the amount lost per resident, compared to our previous study. The lottery report also includes sales by ticket type, but unfortunately, such inclusion is irrelevant to use because the state lists prizes as a single line item, so we can’t make any assertions other than the general assertion that instant tickets, on balance, tend to have a better return to player than drawing games.

Arkansas

That brings us to Arkansas and a Fiscal Year ended June 2021 report, which is the most recent available, so is what we have to work with. I guess an argument could have been made that I should have held off on this to December, but these things don’t necessarily come out when they are supposed to anyway.

Besides, I’m actually starting to wonder if Covid impacted anything at all. If it did, then it sure didn’t take long for those averse to going out to get right back into their lottery playing ways. Beyond that, perhaps the casinos being closed or limited (depending on the state) was a boon for the lottery. Not everyone is going to take advantage of some of the strong online promotions that are out there, so perhaps, they migrated over to the lottery to get their gambling fix.

In any event, here are our relevant notes from last time around:

Total lottery ticket sales amounted to $515,493,507, of which $407,825,514 (79.11%) were Instant Ticket sales and the remaining $107,667,993 (20.89%) consisted of sales of various drawing tickets.

Prizes paid out to players were $293,695,992 for Instant Tickets, thereby resulting in a return to player of 72.02% for those game types which, as bad as that sounds, is actually surprisingly good by state lottery standards! $56,240,230 was paid out to players on drawing games, thereby resulting in a return to player of 52.23% on those---which is obviously terrible, but right about the average for state lotteries and not unexpected.

Totaling these up, $349,876,222 was paid out in prizes against $515,493,507 in total ticket sales for an overall return-to-player of 67.87%, considering all games.

Total losses amount to $165,617,285, which based on an estimated population of 3.018M result in a loss per resident of about $54.88/resident.

That was pursuant to our 2019 study, so let’s see how this most recent report looks.

Fortunately, this continues to be one of the most clear lottery reports, so that’s good news.

Total ticket sales were $631,934,927 which compares to the previous $515,493,507 and represents an increase in revenues of 22.588% compared to our previous report.

Instant ticket sales were 529,369,617 compared to 407,825,514, which represents an increase in sales of 29.803% as compared to our last lottery report. As we can see, the increase to instant ticket sales far exceeds that of drawing ticket sales, so let’s see if those fell off a bit.

Drawing ticket sales amounted to 102,565,310 which was a drop compared to the 107,667,993 from our previous report. In fact, this represents a decline of about 4.975%.

In terms of prizes, total prizes paid out on instant tickets were 383,337,055, which results in a return to player of about 72.414% on Instant tickets. Drawing tickets had a $$$ RTP of 56,809,420, so ultimately that represents a return to player percentage of about 55.389%.

As we can see, the return percentages were slightly higher across the board, but honestly, that could just be the difference between one extra jackpot or second top prize hitting, or not. For states that offer numbers on the Powerball, for example, despite being a national game, we will see different figures.

In total, $191,788,452 was lost by players of the Arkansas Lottery for FY21, so that represents an overall disadvantage of about 30.349% making the total return to player about 69.651%. Per the usual, this return to player is mostly owing to the fact that so much is spent on better returning instant tickets compared to even worse drawing tickets.

The population of Arkansas is about 3.012 million residents, so the average denizen of the state loses about $63.67 to this lottery every year. That includes children, of course, even though they cannot actually buy lottery tickets, so if you were to remove them from the population count, you can redo this, if you choose.

From the previous study, we more than sufficiently demonstrated that Instant Tickets generally have the best return-to-player, drawing tickets have the worst return to player and Mega Millions and Powerball have the worst returns to player among the drawing tickets. The demonstration of same was so conclusive that to get into all of that data would be nothing more than a reiteration of what we already know to be true.

For that reason, I see no reason to compare different types of tickets beyond Instant v. Drawing tickets, and then, when the information is available, I will compare instant ticket return percentages by the denomination of the ticket in question.

For any game to be worse than Mega Millions or Powerball would require that it be a game that is some weird state lottery game probably unique to a particular state and explicitly designed to be awful, so I don’t think any comparisons are needed.

California

Next up is California, which had losses per resident far beyond my wildest expectations given the plethora of other forms of gambling available both in and around the state. Of course, California’s proximity to some parts of Nevada helps out a bit when/if the Powerball or Mega Millions jackpots get way up there as, you will recall, Nevada does not have a state lottery.

California does, though. HIghly liberal California, I might add, nothing quite like offering your residents…many of whom are on the poorer end…games where the Government fleeces them out of 25%+ of every ticket purchased to show that you truly care.

From our previous report:

The first thing that the lottery reports, at least in terms of what is of interest to us, is the total amount in sales and prizes paid out for the Fiscal Year. Total sales amounted to 7,388,050,316 and total prizes were 4,715,592,673 which thereby results in a return to player of 63.83%, including all games. The total losses on all games were $2,672,457,643, which based on a population of an estimated 39.51M, results in losses of $67.64/resident.

The next section that is relevant to us separates sales and prizes into the general game types of drawing tickets and instant tickets, which the lottery report terms, "Scratchers."

Drawing ticket sales totaled 1,526,370,543 with Instant Ticket Sales totaling 5,170,791,532 , Hot Spot Game totaling 313,779,077 and, "Daily Games," totaling 377,109,164. Please note, that in the chart on the bottom of this page, that Instant Tickets will include only Scratchers will other games categorized as drawing games.

Scratcher Game prizes totaled 3,587,479,416 whereas Drawing Tickets are no longer separated by game type and total prizes are reported of 1,128,113,257.

When we add up the different types of drawing games from above, we get total Drawing Ticket game sales of 2,217,258,784.

Which brings us to the new report….except there isn’t one. Unfortunately, the most recent report available is for Fiscal Year ended June of 2020, which is exactly what we DON’T want because that is going to consist of the time of the Covid-19 pandemic that was the most generally strict, in terms of lockdowns, in arguably the state that had the strictest lockdowns.

It’s also beyond all comprehension to me that the most recent Comprehensive Lottery report available to the public is from a Fiscal Year that ended OVER TWO CALENDAR YEARS AGO!!! How could the California lottery not manage to produce a report for Fiscal Year 2021 with over a year to have done so by now? I understand that the public, at-large, is generally apathetic to what the lottery is doing, but going two years with no report seems particularly egregious.

If ever a report goes up and you happen to notice it, then please feel free to message me and I will update this page accordingly. I don’t know why it takes more than an entire fiscal year for the report for the previous fiscal year to be released, but I’m not going to use the numbers that I know were highly skewed by the Covid-19 pandemic as it becomes an unreasonable comparison based on a statistical anomaly, that being the pandemic itself.

Colorado

For the State of Colorado, I managed to find this sort of macro-report, which is extremely basic, but should be adequate enough for our purposes. At a minimum, it’s something, which is more than I can say for California’s available material vis-a-vis Fiscal Year 2021.

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player
Instant Tickets 443,409,967  299,240,160  67.49%
Powerball 86,147,274 40,950,837 47.54%
Lotto 28,034,842  14,529,352  51.83%
Mega Millions 72,719,920 34,900,730  47.99%
Cash 5 16,571,656 9,159,621  55.27%
Cash 5 EZ Match 3,041,876  1,777,359  58.43%
Pick 3 12,902,998 6,209,327  48.12%
Lucky for Life 16,951,078  10,171,758  60.01%
Total 679,779,611  416,939,144  61.33%

 

Above is our table for Colorado pursuant to our earlier analysis of the state, so this information combined with this brief report linked above will be enough to suit our purposes, at least, to a minimum extent.

This time around, we find total sales of 796M as compared to 679.8M the previous time around, for an estimated sales gain of about 17.09% compared to our previous findings.

Instant tickets accounted for 573M in total sales this time, which means that drawing tickets would have accounted for about 223M in total sales.

Unfortunately, this brief report we have available includes prizes along with a few other things, such as retailer commissions, in cash paid out. For that reason, it’s probably best just to assume that the percentage actually paid out in prizes is the same as the 61.33% from our previous study. Even if it is more than that, which it could well be due to the percentage of instant ticket sales as compared to drawing ticket sales, we have no way of knowing exactly what the difference is due to the report not specifying prizes as a separate item from other returns.

Assuming the 38.67% overall house edge, then we would expect total losses to be about 307,813,200, or thereabouts. Unfortunately, this could end up being somewhat off, but again, that’s on Colorado for not making a full report publicly available online, as far as I can tell. We do know that retailer commissions were 61M, but there are still other amounts included in the same item as prizes, so that wouldn’t be enough to tell us anything. For my part, I’m just inclined to operate on the assumption that the overall house edge is the same.

With that, the loss per resident, based on a population of 5.685M, would be about $54.14, so that’s good enough for me.

Alternatively, I could look at sales by game type, individually, knowing that would bode well for the overall return percentage given that drawing ticket sales went down while instant ticket sales increased, by I don’t care, because there’s really no reason that this information should not be available on their lottery report, even if it is just a truncated one they throw up online.

Connecticut

For the State of Connecticut, we have a proper Annual Report for Fiscal Year ended June, 2021, oh the novelty of that!

The first thing that we are going to do is to highlight some of our relevant observations from our previous study, which can be found immediately below:

Total Sales were 1,267,592,000, of which 736,443,000 were instant ticket sales, leaving a total of 504,149,000 in total drawing ticket sales. Total prizes were 800,238,000, of which 516,523,000 were Instant Ticket prizes, leaving a total of 283,715,000 in Drawing ticket prizes.

Overall, drawing tickets had a total return-to-player of 56.28% on all Drawing Tickets.

In total, Connecticut residents would lose $467,354,000 to the Connecticut State Lottery. Based on an estimated population of 3.565 million for 2019, total losses to the lottery, on a per resident basis, were $131.10.

One thing that we found last time was that Connecticut has a Keno game that is more popular than those of most state lotteries. That leaves me with a little bit of a problem as I can take one of two paths:

  1. Because Keno is fundamentally a drawing game, I can include the Keno game with the drawing game numbers, but the result of that is going to be that Keno artificially pulls up the return for drawing games as it would return significantly better than something like a Pick 3 or Mega Millions.
  2. Alternatively, I can not count Keno towards the numbers and restrict the actual table to traditional drawing games and instant games.

It would appear as though I went with Option #1 in our previous analysis, so I will stay consistent to that and treat the Connecticut Keno as if it were any other drawing game.

The first thing we note is that total sales were $1,497,770,000 as compared to $1,267,592,000 in our earlier study, which equates to an increase of about 18.16% in total sales.

Instant ticket sales would represent $837,705,500 compared to $736,443,000 in our previous analysis, which represents an increase of 13.75% in Instant Ticket sales. Because overall sales increased more than Instant Ticket sales, we would expect the overall return to player to be worse this time around, unless most of the difference is in Keno, which is the best returning game that we are going to classify as a drawing game.

Instant ticket prizes appear to be $589,904,000, which represents a return to player of 70.419%, which is a very minor increase over the previous study that is probably just statistical noise.

That leaves an available $660,065,000 for all other types of sales, including Keno, combined. Of that amount, $339,849,000 would have been paid out in prizes, as that is the remaining amount of prizes available, for a total return to player of 51.487% on all other games.

Total losses to the lottery by residents would be $568,017,000, so based on a population of about 3.571 million, represents losses of about $159.06 on a per resident basis.

As we suspected, the overall return to player is lower, despite higher sales, which is mostly owing to the fact that the percentage increase in sales has more to do with drawing tickets than it does with instant tickets.

More specifically, multi-state games (such as Powerball and Mega Millions) had the biggest increase from 2020 to 2021, so we can assume that the same holds from 2019 to 2021, since those games have the worst overall returns, a disproportionate increase in the sales of those games relative to others would cause overall return to player to decline in percentage.

Delaware

That brings us to Delaware. As before, the first thing we are going to do is look at some of our relevant findings from the previous iteration of this analysis:

In addressing Traditional forms of Lottery, we see that Delaware breaks down as follows:

Instant Ticket Sales Instant Ticket Prizes Instant Ticket Return to Player Drawing Ticket Sales Drawing Ticket Prizes Drawing Ticket Return to Player
79,808,944 53,114,641 66.55% 116,507,746 58,773,996 50.45%

 

From this, we can determine that Delaware residents and visitors lost a total of $84,428,053 to the Delaware State Lottery in the form of traditional games, that results, based on a 2019 population estimate of 973,764, in a total loss of $86.70/resident to the traditional lottery.

In our previous report, we got into some analysis of the casinos in Delaware, because those are also administered through the state lottery, but we are not going to do that this time as there will be a separate report on casinos for 2021 in the coming months.

More than that, this analysis is really meant to be focused more on Instant and Drawing tickets, so it is enough for me that we are going to consider Keno to be a drawing game, which it basically is, for these purposes.

Delaware also has a sports lottery that we’re not going to get into because it’s very tough to compartmentalize that into either drawing or instant tickets, so we want to be basically looking at comparables here.

Unfortunately, the most recent complete financial report on the lottery’s website appears to be for Fiscal Year ended June, 2019. In other words, the lottery, at least as far as its website goes, is a full three years behind on the production of this purportedly public information.

As with California, I will do the best I can to remember to check on this from time to time, and should you happen to see this information go up, I would appreciate you letting me know. I think this is all pretty wild considering that this report would contain the same information as the analysis that I did two years ago…so they are a little behind in this reporting.

Florida

For its part, Florida at least seems concerned about letting the public know what is going on with their lottery. The comprehensive report for FY2021 is already available and can be found here.

With that, let us reflect back upon our relevant findings in the previous comprehensive report that we did:

The first thing that we will note, in brief, is that total lottery sales were $7,151,236,000 compared to total prizes of 4,638,488,000, thereby resulting in losses to the lottery of 2,512,748,000, which is well over two and a half BILLION dollars for the Fiscal Year. Florida is quite a populous state with the estimate for 2019 being 21.48M, so we see a loss of about $116.98/resident.

Of the 7,151,236,000 in sales, 4.9378B were in Instant Tickets, which had an overall return of 3.6295B, which is about 73.51%. Remaining sales were 2.2135B in Drawing games, which returned prizes totaling 1.0965B, for a total return-to-player percentage of about 49.54%.

I remember having some trouble related to finding the actual prize amounts when I did this the last time, but hopefully that information can at least be found in the same place this time.

This time around, sales were estimated to be around $9,076,219,000, or just over nine billion dollars in total lottery sales in the state. Total prizes amount to $6,135,198,000, which means that residents of the state lost a total of $2,941,021,000, or almost three BILLION dollars to the state lottery. Inconceivable.

In any event, the return to player from all games would be about 67.596% given the information that we have. The population of Florida is about 21.22 million, so we see an average loss, per resident, of about $138.60. This is an increase of about 18.482% compared to our previous study.

Instant ticket sales were $6,827,864,000 compared to 4.9378B in our previous report, which represent an increase of about 38.277% since that time. Drawing ticket sales would reflect all of remaining sales, so as a result, would total about $2,248,355,000 which is compared to $2,213,500,000 from our last study, thereby reflecting a negligible increase of about 1.575%.

Instant ticket returns to player were $5,046,267,000, which the lottery calculates for us to let us know that it reflects a return to player of 73.91%, which is pretty good by lottery instant ticket standards. Quite frankly, the highest denomination instant tickets might get up near the RTP of a truly terrible slot machine somewhere!

In the meantime, all prizes from drawing tickets would total $1,152,008,000, which reflects a return to player of 51.24% on those. I wouldn’t necessarily conclude that the expected value of a drawing ticket in Florida is better than it was before as a significant payout or two could swing the percentages, by itself, by this sort of minor amount.

In any event, the overall RTP’s for the State of Florida lottery have increased from 64.863% to about 67.596% due almost entirely to the fact that a higher percentage of sales are the better returning instant tickets now compared to a closer gap between instant ticket sales and drawing ticket sales that we saw in our previous study.

Georgia

For Georgia, the most recent Annual Report available is for 2020, but I am going to go ahead and include the data because the lottery still had better numbers than it did for 2019 and I don’t think their lockdowns were as restrictive as some other states, so perhaps the pandemic would have had a smaller impact here. With that, here is the FY20 Annual Report for Georgia.

I think what I will probably end up doing is updating Georgia with more recent information whenever the information for states like California and Delaware finally comes out and is publicly available. For the time being, even though it’s been two years since I have done this, at least the information is more recent than it was the previous iteration.

The relevant highlights from our last look include:

The Georgia Lottery Report has a separate line item that serves to deduct, "Tickets provided as prizes," from ticket sales, so that's fair enough. We can assume that these tickets are not also being added to the amounts for prizes paid out, otherwise, why separately account for them to begin with? With that, we see that the Georgia State Lottery had total revenues in sales of 4.776B for FY 2019 compared to 2.12B in total prize payouts for a total of 2.656B in total losses to the Georgia State Lottery.

Based on a population estimate of 10.62M for 2019, the result is a loss, per resident, of $250.09

Scratch ticket sales were 3.219B of the lottery's total sales of 4.776B, which leaves a total of roughly 1.557B attributable to Drawing Games, in total. (The disparity to total sales is because instant tickets awarded as prizes do not count towards either, we are also counting anything that is not Instant Tickets as drawing, though the lottery does not) Scratcher prizes totaled 2.072B, which results in a return-to-player of about 64.37% on Instant Tickets.

This time around we find total sales of $4,974,840,000, which is just a year over year comparison (as opposed to being two years apart, like most of the others), but does represent increased sales of 4.1633%.

They list instant ticket sales as 3.428B for 2020 as compared to 3.219B the previous year, so that reflects an increase in sales of 6.493%, which means that other types of tickets (combined) would have dropped off slightly. We also note that the difference in scratch ticket sales more than covers the difference in total ticket sales, which further verifies our assertion.

In fact, that would leave 1.546B for drawing ticket sales as compared to the 1.557B for the previous year, so it is evident that drawing tickets dropped off by about 0.71%, which could very well have been related to the pandemic. Either way, instant tickets did really well.

In total, prizes paid out were in the amount of $3,045,570,000, and again, I remain torn as to whether or not to include free tickets because they are listed as a separate line item. The Georgia lottery subtracts free ticket

prizes from sales, so that money was most certainly spent and not returned as cash. Because there was no option for that money to even be returned as cash, we are considering only the prizes actually paid out (in theory) as cash against the actual cash sales to come up with losses. With that, net ticket sales were $4,636,178,000 of which residents lost $1,929,270,000 which reflects a loss of $183.39/resident.

It’s also worth noting that the prize payouts for 2019 are different than what I had before, so we are going to need to update those. The Georgia lottery is now saying that prize payouts for the previous year were $2,876,421,000, against $4,454,969,000 in total net sales, which would reflect losses of $1,578,548,000, or $148.64 per resident based on our population estimate then.

In the meantime, I don’t like this report format at all, so I’m not even going to mess around with trying to figure out the sales by ticket type.

Hawaii

Hawaii remains blissfully free of a state lottery; we have no reason to suspect that will change.

Idaho

You can always count on the people of Idaho, and this time, we can count on them to have the Fiscal Year 2021 Lottery Report out in a timely fashion!

The first thing that we are going to do is revisit some of the findings from our last study:

Instant tickets returned prizes of $119,504,580, which reflects a return to player of 70.11% on those. Pull Tab prizes were $1,364,151, which represents a return to player of 70.15%, which is right in line with the returns from Instant Tickets proper. Finally, TouchTab Ticket prizes were good for $37,447,814, which resulted in a return-to-player of 80.18%.

For the purposes of our table below, all of these types of lottery sales will count towards Instant Tickets, as they are the closest in comparison, so we see overall prizes of $158,316,545 against total sales of $219,113,225 for a final return to player on Instant type tickets of 72.25%.

In total, $95,312,709 was lost by players to the Idaho State Lottery for Fiscal Year 2019, based on population estimates of 1.787M for the relevant year, the loss per resident to the Idaho State Lottery was about $53.34/resident.

That brings us to the 2021 FY Annual Report, wherein we find that total sales were $372,022,158. Of these sales, $63,932,173 were on drawing games, which means that they are down a bit. All other sales total $308,089,985, which includes Instant Tickets, Pull Tabs and Touchtabs; this compares to $219,113,225 for the other year we looked at, which means sales gains of about 40.608%.

It looks like we counted raffles as drawing games last time around, but they pay on the spot when the drawing takes place and the drawing usually takes place in the same venue where you bought the ticket, so I guess it really doesn’t matter where you put them. It’s also worth noting that their own report does not classify raffles as a drawing game, so we should do as the report does.

We find that total prizes paid out of these $372,022,158 in total sales amounted to $252,890,557, thereby resulting in total losses, to players, of $119,132,001. The population of the state is about 1.754M, so residents lost $67.92 to the lottery on a per resident basis. The increase in loss, per resident, is about 27.33%.

Unfortunately, the most recent report doesn’t seem to line item prizes by ticket type, so we don’t really know how the prize distribution and RTP compares to our previous report. What we do know is that the total percentage return to player is 67.977%; this is going to be slightly higher than it was before simply by virtue of the fact that a greater percentage of instant tickets were sold as compared to drawing tickets than in the previous analysis.

Illinois

As the last time we did this, Illinois is home to a wide variety of different forms of gambling, but that doesn’t slow down traditional lottery sales, or at least, doesn’t seem to. With gambling ever expanding, we will see if the lottery was able to hold its own, in percentage gains, as compared to previous years.

The most recent full-year report is ending in June of 2021, which probably includes more of 2020 than I would like, but it shouldn’t be too skewed as a result. I might go back and include the FY22 information, when it becomes published, and I go back to do California and Delaware who, for whatever reason, haven’t published anything new in years vis-a-vis lottery report.

In any event, the relevant information from last time includes:

The only thing that we can gather is that lottery sales for the year were 2,974,539,000 and total prizes were in the amount of 1,907,153,000, thereby resulting in an overall return to players of 64.12%, all games considered. The total amount lost to traditional lottery games was $1,067,386,000 which, based on an estimated population of 12.67M for 2019, comes out to a loss pre resident of about $84.25.

Perhaps the new lottery report will have more detailed information, but it’s hard to say.

Unfortunately, much like the lottery, this report still sucks. The only things that we know for sure are there were $3,447,686,000 in sales against $2,329,353,000 in prizes, which represents an overall loss of $1,118,333,000 to players and a return to player percentage of about 67.56%. Given the increased RTP, we would not suspect that the games themselves got much better, but it could just be a combination of an extra large prize, or two, being won combined with Instant Tickets being purchased at an increasing rate compared to drawing tickets.

In terms of loss per resident, we find that Illinois is home to about 12.72M people, so about $87.92 was lost, per resident. This is a slight increase as compared to our last study.

Again, Illinois is home to many other forms of gambling that all have better returns than lottery games, so it comes as no surprise that they would increase loss per resident at a slower rate than states that don’t have much in the way of gambling alternatives.

Indiana

We find that the Hoosier Lottery continues to offer an annual report that is short, sweet and conveys a decent amount of information actually of interest to players. The most recent report available is for the 2021 Fiscal Year, so we will turn to it.

In the meantime, we will also highlight some aspects of our previous study for the purpose of comparison:

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player Percentage
Drawing 372,870,808 188,319,594 50.51%
Instant 974,884,849 671,678,121 68.90%

 

Okay, so we have 1,347,755,657 in sales less 859,997,715 in prizes for a total loss to the Indiana State Lottery, during Fiscal Year 2019, of $487,757,942. Based on population estimates of 6.732M for 2019, that results in a loss, per resident, of about $72.45.

For the 2021 Fiscal Year, we find that the Indiana Lottery sold a total of $1,737,734,032 in tickets, which breaks down to $1,384,468,618 in Instant Ticket sales compared to $353,265,414

In drawing ticket sales. As we can see, Instant Ticket sales were significantly higher than in 2019 while the drawing ticket sales slumped a little bit.

The overall increase to sales comparing the two years is 25.516%, but we don’t think the increase in loss per resident will be quite that high because, once again, there is a general trend of lottery players gravitating more to instant tickets these days.

Instant ticket prizes amounted to $967,253,592, which reflects to a return to player of about 69.865%. While we note that Instant Ticket returns are nearly 1% higher than in our last study, it’s important to remark that could be related to anything. For one thing, there might have been more large jackpots hit, or alternatively, players might be preferring higher denomination tickets (which tend to have slightly better returns) now as compared to before. It’s also possible that the games are ever so slightly better by design, but we doubt it.

Drawing ticket prizes amounted to $176,605,037, which reflects a return to player on drawing tickets of about 49.992%, which is obviously terrible. We would attribute this decline to the changes in rules that a few drawing games saw, but it could also just be normal variance on people hitting the top prizes.

That leaves us with total player losses of $593,875,403, which based on a population of about 6.697 million, would be losses of about $88.68 on a per resident basis.

In summary, the trend that we are seeing in Indiana, as well as all other states that we have looked at thus far, is that the lottery continues to see revenue gains year after year. These gains are mostly, and sometimes exclusively, as a result of gains to Instant Ticket sales revenues as drawing tickets seem to be falling out of the public favor (at least in some states) as compared to years past.

For these reasons, at least so far, residents seem to be losing more, on a per resident basis, to traditional forms of lottery, though they are getting slightly better returns to player by virtue of the fact that they are buying a greater proportion of Instant Tickets than they were before.

Another trend that I have noticed, and this is just from glancing at the machines, is that there is an upward trend in the cost of instant tickets with a lesser percentage of available tickets being at the lowest, typically $1, denomination. For that reason, and assuming that the higher denomination tickets have continued their trend of returning slightly better to players, players buying the more costly tickets in greater proportions to the cheap ones would also result in slight increases to overall return to player.

Iowa

That brings us to Iowa, which is also a state that finds itself home to a plethora of gambling options for its residents. It doesn’t appear that the comprehensive Annual Report for FY 2021 is out just yet, but what we do have is an audit report for that same year, so we will be using that.

Before we get into that, however, let’s refresh our memories as to some of the relevant statistics from our last lottery study:

Total sales from drawing tickets (does not include pull tabs) were $129,376,821 and total prizes from drawing tickets were $66,819,255 for a total return to player on drawing tickets of 51.65% on all drawing type games.

Total losses to the lottery include drawing games, pull tabs and instant tickets. The lottery counts promotional items as prizes towards players, and apparently has some sort of loyalty program, but we will not count these things because we would not know exactly where to apply them---so we are looking at just the games:

(250,642,094-166,890,489)+(129,376,821-66,819,255)+(10,876,605-6,805,266) = $150,380,510 in total losses by players to the traditional forms of lottery, as well as Pull Tabs. These losses are on an estimated 2019 population of 3.155M, thereby resulting in losses per resident of roughly $47.66.

It seems that I treated Pull Tabs as Instant Tickets for the purposes of the study, which makes sense, as I would be inclined to do that anyway.

The first thing we note for this lottery is that total sales were $452,603,028, of which $122,896,954 would have been some kind of drawing ticket, for all practical purposes. Instant Tickets + Pull Tabs would have accounted for the other $329,706,074 in total sales.

From those total sales, we know that $288,877,229 was paid out in prizes, which reflects player losses of $163,725,799 and return to player percentage of 63.826% overall. We would expect this to reflect an overall increase due to the fact that a greater proportion of the tickets sold were Instant Tickets, as opposed to Drawing Tickets, as compared to 2019.

Based on a population estimate of 3.15M, we find that the average loss, per resident, comes out to around $51.98. In other words, residents are losing more to the lottery in FY21 than they did in FY19, but not quite to the extent as those residents from some other states.

The audit does offer some return percentages for various games:

An analysis of prizes awarded for the year ended June 30, 2021 is as follows:

Scratch ticket prizes = 67% of Scratch ticket sales

Instaplay prizes = 73% of Instaplay sales

Pick 3 prizes = 60% of Pick 3 sales

Pick 4 prizes = 60% of Pick 4 sales

Powerball prizes = 50% of Powerball sales

Mega Millions prizes = 50% of Mega Millions sales

Lucky for Life prizes = 64% of Lucky for Life sales

Lotto America prizes = 50% of Lotto America sales

Pull-tab prizes = 62% of Pull-tab sales

I’m not exactly sure what Instaplay consists of off of the top of my head, but for these purposes, it got lumped in with drawing tickets. Only Pull Tabs got lumped in with Instant Tickets.

As anyone can see, Instant Tickets clearly offer better returns to players than do drawing tickets. In fact, if the Iowa Lottery does indeed return 60% on daily drawing tickets, then that itself is actually better than the returns for most states.

You can also go to Page 18 of the report if you wish to compare revenues to prizes by game type. For example, if you wanted to see how something like Pick 3 and Pick 4 performed. I would be more interested in the Instant Ticket returns by denomination, but unfortunately, this report does not seem to contain that information.

We find that total prizes of $219,645,895 were paid on Instant Tickets + Pull Tabs, from above, we know that those sales were $329,706,074, therefore giving us a return to player of 66.619% on those, which agrees with the lottery’s conclusion from the audit.

Total prizes on all drawing type games amounted to $69,231,334, so when we compare that to the revenues of $122,896,954 would result in a total return to player percentage of 56.333% for all drawing tickets. If I had to guess, maybe one of the games actually improved, or maybe there was just an extra huge jackpot or two paid out in one fiscal year compared to the other. I think the most likely change is that maybe the Pick 3 and Pick 4 were 50% before and got bumped up to having a 60% return to player as that seems unusual anyway.

In any event, whatever causes the increases, it’s not hurting the lottery as they are enjoying a higher loss per resident than they have in previous years. Actually, this is also available a little later in the report; the daily pick games and Lucky for Life were slightly better to players than in years before; they are still awful, though.

Kansas

The next state that we will tackle is that of Kansas to see how its lottery department is faring when compared to the rest of the country. It wouldn’t surprise us to see more of the same as these sort of trends often exhibit nationally.

Unfortunately, it’s more of the same from the Kansas Lottery who seems content not to reveal too much to the public. What I found this time is the same as what I found last time, so what we will be able to glean from it is sure to be quite limited.

For comparison, what we found last time:

The total sales were 295,282,190 with total prizes of 172,676,708, which results in an overall return to player of about 58.48%. Lottery players in the state would lose a total of 122,605,482 for the year in question, so based on a population estimate of 2.913M, the lottery total losses would amount to roughly $42.09/resident.

This time around, total sales are $326,010,853 for 2021 compared to total prizes of $200,187,234 which represents total losses of $125,823,619 and total return to player percentage of 61.405%, which is better than last time around. We suspect that the difference in return to player, as with other states, comes from people transitioning to Instant Tickets and buying them in a bigger proportion compared to drawing tickets than in years prior.

The population estimate is about 2.913M still, so losses to the lottery come out to about $43.19, per year, per resident. This is a very slight increase compared to the 2019 fiscal year.

I will acknowledge that they have a number that I can call to request the full Annual Report, but what I don’t understand is why they don’t just put it online? It’s really something that is fairly easy to do, so I don’t understand the need for the public to jump through hoops in order to access this information.

Kentucky

The one thing that I will always give the Kentucky Lottery for its Annual Report, this time for Fiscal Year 2021, is that it is short, sweet and contains a reasonable amount of information that would be relevant to the lottery playing public.

With that, we will look back upon some of what we discovered in our last study:

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player Percentage
Instant Tickets 741,063,000 523,684,000 70.67%
Drawing Games 429,116,000 251,615,000 58.64%
iLottery Games 33,263,000 25,942,000 77.99%

 

Okay, so we are going to have to treat iLottery games as something, so I am going to lump them in with Instant Tickets this time. Here were some of our previous observations from 2019:

In total, Kentucky residents would lose an astonishing $304,977,000 to the state lottery for Fiscal Year 2020. The estimated population for 2020 was about 4.48 million, so the loss per resident was an average of $68.08.

Okay, so the first thing I am going to do with that 2019 report is add sales and prizes from Instant and iLottery together because that is how I am going to treat them this time. Sales become $774,326,000 and prizes become $549,626,000 for total return to player of about 70.981% on what we will consider Instant Tickets.

Instant and iLottery ticket sales would reflect the total sales of $1,586,325,000 less the drawing ticket sales of $506,009,000 to become $1,080,316,000. Compared to FY19, this would reflect gains of about 39.517% for this type of ticket.

In the meantime, Drawing ticket sales in FY19 were $429,116,000 and also increased to $506,009,000, which reflects total percentage gain in revenue of about 17.919%...so these guys must know how to market! Give your promotional people all a blanket raise! Kentucky is poised to be one of the few states for which drawing ticket sales actually increased in revenue! Especially considering how much of an increase it was.

Total prizes were $1,067,446,000 of which $285,195,000 were drawing ticket prizes thereby leaving $782,251,000 for the other games that we are broadly calling Instant Tickets.

The return to player on all drawing tickets is 56.362%, or thereabouts, which represents a little bit of a decline that could just relate back to fewer top, or near top, jackpots being hit. It’s interesting timing that a decline in return would correspond to a gain in drawing ticket sales, though.

The next thing to look at is the return on games we are treating as Instant Tickets, which was $782,251,000 against the $1,080,316,000 that was bet, thereby resulting in a return to player of about 72.409% on those. This would reflect an increase of nearly 1.5% over our study from FY2019, but it could be statistical noise with more top prizes than expected being hit. Equally likely, or perhaps more likely, is that a greater proportion of sales were on higher denomination tickets which tend to have a slightly better return to player than do the cheapest tickets.

In total, Kentucky Lottery players would lose $518,879,000, or over a half of a billion dollars, to the state of Kentucky over that fiscal year. This represents a return to player, all tickets included, of about 67.29% with drawing tickets pulling that number down. The population of the state is about 4.462M, so the total loss per resident is about $116.29.

I have no idea what this marketing department is getting up to, but what I do know is that the Kentucky Lottery made 70.814% more, on a per resident basis, in 2021 than it did in 2019, which is just Looney Tunes to me!

Louisiana

That brings us down to the Bayou wherein we find the Annual Report for the State of Louisiana that covers the Fiscal Year ended in June, 2021, which is what we want.

Let’s start off by reviewing our relevant information from the previous study that we conducted:

The overview includes the instant ticket sales, drawing ticket sales and overall prize expenses. Instant ticket sales were 225,573,998 and drawing ticket sales totaled 298,393,430 for a total of 523,967,428 against 285,330,406 in prizes for a return to player percentage of 54.46% overall (mainly low due to slightly more than half of the sales coming from poor returning drawing tickets) and player losses of 238,637,022.

Based on a population of about 4.649M people for 2019, the average citizen of the state would lose about $51.33/resident to these traditional forms of lottery.

Looking into the individual game type prizes, we see that instant prizes totaled 135,528,594 against the 225,573,998 in sales, thereby resulting in a return to player percentage of 60.08% on those types of games. That return is terrible, even by instant ticket standards, but it's nowhere near as bad as the return on the drawing ticket games in the state.

Drawing games in the State of Louisiana, in 2019, would return a total of 149,801,812 in prizes against a total of 298,393,430 in sales, thereby resulting in an overall return to player of 50.20% for drawing game types.

That brings us to the numbers for Fiscal Year 2021, which are as follows:

Instant Tickets did a total of $333,770,063 in sales whereas drawing tickets did a total of $291,175,532 in sales for a grand total of $624,945,595 in sales.

With that, we can see that sales for Instant Tickets are 47.967% stronger for FY21 as compared to FY19. In the meantime, Drawing Ticket sales slumped ever so slightly as they would fall by 2.476%.

As we can see, Instant Tickets are doing the heavy lifting in this state, so we would expect that the overall return to player is going to improve accordingly.

Total prizes being put towards Instant Tickets amount to $208,746,643 and total Drawing Ticket prizes are $145,102,077 for total prizes of $353,848,720.

The overall return to player of Instant Tickets is 62.542%, which is an increase of nearly 2.5% compared to Fiscal Year 2019. We tend to suspect that has to do with people gravitating towards buying, and the lotteries gravitating towards selling higher denomination Instant Tickets, which at least have a slightly better return to player than their cheaper counterparts. That’s especially true of the big ticket, well, tickets.

In the meantime, the overall return to player on Drawing Tickets is 49.833%, which reflects a slight decline that could just be statistical noise from one or two jackpots or second-top jackpots not hitting as compared to the previous study we conducted.

In any event, total prizes were $353,848,720 against total sales of $624,945,595, thereby resulting in an overall return to player of about 56.621% and losses by all players of $271,096,875. Based on the state’s population of about 4.665M, we find that the average resident of the state lost $58.11 to the Louisiana Lottery in FY21. The difference is about a 13.209% increase in average loss per resident, comparing FY19 to FY21.

With Louisiana, we see more of this general trend of people getting away from buying drawing tickets and instead favoring instant tickets, though there have been a few states for which sales of both ticket types have increased. The one thing that we have not seen is a decline in instant ticket sales for any state for which we have proper reporting thus far. That comes as no surprise as people don’t seem to mind the higher priced tickets, and it is said higher priced tickets that seem to be corresponding to slightly higher returns to player, that combined with the proportion of tickets purchased favoring Instant Tickets, or equivalent, than in years past.

Maine

The next state up to bat is Maine, for whom we have their 2021 Annual Lottery Report at our disposal. Maine was the one state that actually broke games and prizes down ind individually, as it pertains to Instant Tickets, so we should be able to do a comparison as to where these sales are going and what the tickets are paying out. Such a comparison will help to confirm our theories about was has been going on with the lotteries in other states.

Before we get into all of that, however, it would behoove us to remember some of the information that we got from their FY19 Annual Report, so let’s refresh our memories:

Game Sales 2019 Game Prizes 2019 Game Return to Player 2019 Game Sales 2021 Game Prizes 2021 Game Return to Player 2021
INSTANT INSTANT INSTANT Instant Instant Instant
$1 Instant-8,184,085 $1 Instant-5,025,982 $1 Instant-61.41% $1 Instant-$7,978,806 $5,136,888 64.38%
Heritage Fund-1,852,878 Heritage Fund-1,134,686 Heritage Fund-61.24% Heritage Fund-$2,007,601 $1,614,085 80.40%
$2 Instant-25,202,894 $2 Instant-16,655,443 $2 Instant-66.09% $2 Instant-$19,504,236 $12,845,323 65.86%
$3 Instant-24,301,032 $3 Instant-16,098,691 $3 Instant-66.25% $3 Instant-$22,391,040 $14,839,893 66.28%
$5 Instant-67,891,895 $5 Instant-46,751,162 $5 Instant-68.86% $5 Instant-$93,651,270 $64,835,273 69.23%
$10 Instant-44,511,030 $10 Instant-32,476,733 $10 Instant-72.96% $10 Instant-$74,960,960 $54,879,911 73.21%
$20 Instant-22,516,540 $20 Instant-16,816,099 $20 Instant-74.68% $20 Instant-$36,724,180 $27,473,939 74.81%
$25 Instant-30,174,900 $25 Instant-23,306,867 $25 Instant-77.24% $25 Instant-$57,420,675 $45,046,520 78.45%
           
Instant Total-224,635,254  Instant Total-158,265,663 Instant Average-70.45% Instant Total $226,671,832 72.04%
      $314,638,768    
           
DRAWING DRAWING DRAWING      
           
Drawing Sales-68,217,582  Drawing Total-35,173,407  Drawing Average-51.56% Drawing Sales-$62,240,739 $32,628,920 52.42%
           
FAST PLAY FAST PLAY FAST PLAY      
$1 Fast Play-761,412  $1 Fast Play-465,181 $1 Fast Play-61.09% $1 Fast Play-$474,508 $292,711 61.69%
$2 Fast Play-1,257,453 $2 Fast Play-854,615 $2 Fast Play-67.96% $2 Fast Play-$1,664,700 $1,113,850 66.91%
$5 Fast Play-4,040,035 $5 Fast Play-2,774,884 $5 Fast Play-68.68% $5 Fast Play-2,902,020 $2,017,295 69.51%
$10 Fast Play-539,960 $10 Fast Play-398,158 $10 Fast Play-73.74% $10 Fast Play-$4,636,340 $3,430,647 73.99%
      $20 Fast Play-$4,179,580 $3,112,398 74.47%
Fast Play Sales-6,598,860  Fast Play Total-4,492,838 Fast Play Average-68.09% Fast Play Sales-$13,857,148 $9,967,531 71.93%
           
    Overall Average-66.13% (Excluding Heritage      

 

Overall Average-66.13% (Excluding Heritage

Given that I am going to lump Fast Play in with Instant Tickets, I’m coming up with a total of $328,495,916 there in sales against a total of $236,639,363 in prizes paid out for a total return to player percentage of 72.037%.

For drawing tickets, we had total sales of $62,240,739 against winnings of $32,628,920 for a return to player of 52.424% on those.

In total, players would lose $121,468,372 to the State of Maine playing the lottery. The population of Maine is about 1.341M, so this represents losses of about $90.58 per resident.

However, despite the fact that the average resident lost more money, they actually got a slightly better return to player, on balance. The reason for that is because people are gravitating, and this is a nationwide trend in most states, towards higher denomination ticket purchases.

Specifically, sales of tickets priced at $1, $2 and $3 (Instants) all declined compared to our previous study, but every denomination $5 and over saw an increase in sales compared to the last time. With that, what is happening is that the lottery games aren’t getting meaningfully better, in fact, they probably haven’t changed much at all, but rather people are starting to gravitate towards the higher priced tickets that, I would like to think, always had a higher return than the $1 tickets.

Just for proof of concept, let’s look at each ticket price point as a percentage of sales for Instant Tickets only:

Study 2019 Current
$1 3.64% 2.54%
$2 11.22% 6.20%
$3 10.82% 7.12%
$5 30.22% 29.76%
$10 19.81% 23.82%
$20 10.02% 11.67%
$25 13.43% 18.25%

 

In terms of percentage of sales, as we can see, all tickets of less than $5 would reflect less than a single-digit percentage of sales in Fiscal Year 2021.

Of course, some people might not get why that’s relevant, especially if they are very young. There was once a time, at least as I remember it, that the only tickets you really ever saw being sold were $1 tickets. Eventually, $2 and $5 tickets would make their way into the mix, but then for a very long period, something like a $25 ticket would be completely unheard of.

I guess Maine doesn’t strictly prove the case for us, but the trend there certainly seems to be a consumer preference moving towards the higher denomination tickets, which results in better returns on Instant Tickets and slightly better overall returns to player, accordingly. Again, that’s not because the returns have improved, it’s simply because those tickets have always had slightly better returns than the cheapest ones and now people are buying a greater proportion of those than they did before.

In the case of Maine, the $5 denomination was the ticket to push the most individual units, you can go up and confirm for yourself if you want, but it’s true. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if some states phase out the $1 ticket completely in the coming years, as far as I can tell, they certainly seem to have fewer unique $1.00 ticket games than they once did, but that’s just guessing from taking a glance every now and then.

After all, the $5+ tickets can return slightly more to players and are probably still massively profitable just by virtue of the fact that you have to print and distribute fewer of them. In the case of $25 tickets in Maine, as we can see from the return, they would technically be legal returns for a Nevada slot machine, which has minimum return to player requirements of 75%. Of course, you wouldn’t have to bet $25 at a time to get the worst legal return on a Nevada slot machine, in fact, functionally, most slot machines in the State of Nevada are set higher than that.

It seems to happen a lot that people buy lottery tickets as Christmas presents, so you’ll often see people give out $20 tickets in greeting cards and things like that. What I think would be a better idea is to take that $20, buy them a $15 Starbucks gift card, and then flush the other $5 down the toilet and at least the other person is getting the $15 Starbucks gift card for sure.

Maryland

It remains that Maryland doesn’t seem to have an easy to find report on its lottery website, at least, not one that I could find. They publish this little blurb every year, which is what I used in the 2019 study, wherein they mostly just pat themselves on the back for ripping off their citizens and visitors better than they did in the previous year.

With that, let us recall some of our observations about Maryland from the last time around:

Total sales were about 2.197B and prizes were worth 1.362B resulting in an overall return to lottery players of about 61.99%. It's a simple affair to break down the returns even without the numbers---Instant Tickets returns were horrible and drawing game returns were even more horrible; it's all the same.

835M dollars was lost to the Maryland State Lottery during Fiscal Year 2019, so based on a population estimate of 6.046 million for the year, we come up with a loss of roughly $138.11 per resident...you'd think they would be proud of themselves and want to report how badly their residents got tanned on the individual games!

It’s going to be something close to that this time around as they don’t really break down prizes by game type in this little blurb. I also find it interesting that they don’t seem compelled by anything to publish a comprehensive report as the last one I found was in 2019.

For Fiscal Year 2022, the Maryland lottery reports 2.663B in sales as well as 1.695B in prizes. With that, we know that the RTP on all products has increased slightly to 63.65%. As the lottery says themselves, all of this has been fueled by an increase in the purchase of Instant Tickets which, as we have discussed, have a better return to player than do drawing tickets anyway, for the most part.

Residents and visitors to the State of Maryland allowed themselves to get fleeced by the lottery for about $968,000,000 in losses, so based on a population of about 6.038M, this would represent losses of about $160.32 on a per resident basis.

The increase in the loss per resident relative to our 2019 study is 16.08%, which puts Maryland roughly in the middle of the pack in that regard. That being said, they are doing extremely well in loss per resident, especially for a state that has so many other gambling options.

As far as our table goes, we are not going to bother differentiating from Instant Tickets and Drawing Tickets because this little blurb that Maryland provides its lottery playing public really doesn’t go into any great detail as to the amount of prizes by game type.

Massachusetts

For Massachusetts, we have this little lottery, “Statement of Operations,” available to us, but to be fair, this document contains just about everything that we could want.

With that available to us, we will reiterate some of our findings from the 2019 comprehensive lottery study:

In any event, lottery sales totaled 5,508,564,000 and prizes amounted to 3,987,258,000 which would be a return to player, overall, of 72.38%. You think they'd be advertising the hell out of that, because that's REALLY high for an overall lottery return.

Of course, no legal slot machine in Nevada, or any other state, could return that poorly.

The reason why is fairly obvious, Instant Tickets and Keno combined for 85.9% of all Massachusetts Lottery sales for the period whilst Powerball and Mega Millions accounted for a total of 5.3% of sales. It seems that the residents of Massachusetts are mostly well-versed enough on gambling to avoid the absolute worst games.

Total losses to the Massachusetts Lottery during this period were 1,521,306,000, which based on a 2019 population estimate of 6.893M, would result in a loss to the lottery, per resident, of about $220.70, which is a HUGE number compared to other states. Massachusetts folks sure love those Instant Tickets!

For 2021, we find that Instant Ticket sales were $4,030,034,000 as compared to the $3,673,903,000 for Fiscal Year 2019. Unfortunately, prizes are listed as a single line item, once again, so we don’t know what the Instant Ticket payouts were specifically. It’s my opinion that this information should be available on all lottery documentation, especially official documentation, so that the public can at least calculate the RTP information. Personally, I think that should be made available for every single type of ticket they have.

The last time we did this, we accidentally included interest and miscellaneous income, because for some reason, they couldn’t have put a space between those things and the sale of actual lottery tickets on the revenues list. I have no idea why not. In any event, we won’t make that mistake this time and will come up with $1,769,046,000 in sales for all Drawing tickets, which just includes everything else that is a ticket sale, because I’m already sick of dealing with this report.

With that, we have a total of $5,799,080,000 in ticket sales against $4,283,225,000 in prizes for a total loss by residents and visitors of $1,515,855,000 and a return to player (overall) of about 73.86%, which is mostly brought about by the high percentage of sales that Instant Tickets represents.

Fundamentally, Keno is a Drawing game, so I included that with drawing tickets for the Massachusetts Lottery this time around; it seems that last time I did it as an Instant Ticket, with my logic probably being that it gets played within minutes.

In any event, Massachusetts does not release the information on what amount in prizes is applicable to what game, so as a result of that, it really doesn’t matter where I put it.

We have determined that Massachusetts residents and guests lost a total of $1,515,855,000 to the state lottery for Fiscal Year 2019; the state’s population is about 6.873 million, so the result is an average loss per resident of about $220.55.

For comparison, I have to recalculate what I got for 2019 because who would have expected Massachusetts to include something like, “Beano Tax,” in the same list with lottery ticket sales without some sort of space or something else to indicate we are not talking about lottery tickets.

In any event, I get a new total of $5,492,435,000 in ticket sales against prizes of $3,987,258,000 for a total loss of $1,505,177,000, so based on the population estimate that we used in 2019, this would be a 2019 loss per resident of $218.36. There’s also a line item for, “MegaBucks,” that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with, so I just included it with drawing in all instances. I don’t know why that specifically goes through the lottery, or if perhaps it is some sort of drawing game that happens to have the same name.

Michigan

With Michigan, we arrive at another state that has a smorgasbord of gambling options available to its residents and visitors, but that doesn’t seem to slow down the traditional lottery too much. Fortunately, the comprehensive 2021 Annual Report for the lottery is available to use, so we will be able to adequately compare the numbers to the last time around.

First, some relevant information from last time:

The first thing that we will note is that lottery operating revenues were 3.8974B for the State of Michigan during that fiscal year and prizes were 2.3647B, unfortunately, they have subtracted unclaimed prizes before arriving at that number, so let us hope that the individual game numbers are listed somewhere else in the report.

In any event, Michigan residents would have lost about 1.5327B for the fiscal year which, based on a population of 9.987M, would reflect losses of about $153.47/resident. That's honestly a surprisingly high number given all of the other forms of gambling in the state but, despite the competition, the lottery seems to do better every year!

Believe it or not, 2020 was no exception, better year for the lottery than 2019! Take that, pandemic and economic uncertainty! You can't stop lottery players; you can not even hope to try.

The lottery breaks down the different game sales and prize types by general category, so we will look at sales, prizes and return to player below:

Game Type Sales (19) Prizes (19) Return to Player (19) Sales (21) Prizes (21) Return to Player (21)
Instant 1.6555B 1.2200B 73.69% 2.4486B 1.8234B 74.47%
Drawing 1.4385B 751.3M 52.23% 1.5951B 918.4M 57.58%
Club 650.9M 433.9M 66.66% 600.2M 393.3M 65.53%
Other 152.5M ? ? 160.4M Unknown Unknown
iLottery N/A N/A N/A (Net Win)*** Unknown Unknown
        $241.8M    

 

I suppose I could have figured out, “Other,” back in 2019 by subtracting the prizes from the other types of lottery games and comparing that result (which would be prizes remaining) to the amount of, “Other,” sales, or it could be that they didn’t actually state the amount in prizes.

In any event, they certainly provided a reasonably good amount of information, so we hope for that to continue to be the case.

Okay, so iLottery, which I would assume to be their online product, only discusses sales in terms of net win, so we will probably be unable to come up with a return on that, but it must certainly be accounted for when it comes to loss per resident. Unfortunately, that will artificially reduce the overall return to player (because certainly these players did not lose 100% of all monies bet), but then, I really don’t care that much. I think Michigan should just list the total amount bet here and then the total amount in prizes elsewhere.

In total, for one type of ticket or the other, we have about 5.0461B in total sales, which also includes the Net Win from iLottery and other lottery types, even though we don’t know the return on those. The only prizes listed are Instant, Drawing and Club Games, and those are totaled to evidently reflect a total amount of prizes of 3.1351B. Again, we know that iLottery only reports gains, so we don’t know what the total bets were (and don’t have a payback percentage) and then, evidently, other types of ticket sales are separately accounted for, but the prizes from same are apparently lumped in with one of the three ticket types somewhere.

In any event, we have residents losing 1.911B, all forms of lottery included. Of course, they bet more than 5.0461B to lose that much, but we have no idea how much they bet because iLottery does not seem to list that in that way. Even in the more detailed breakdown, which goes by game type, we cannot find the total wagers for iLottery.

I have decided to include iLottery in loss per resident, but not in the overall return percentages. I’m not going to calculate an overall return percentage because we’re not putting that in the final table anyway and I also have no way to account for iLottery. With that, we have total losses of 1.911B against an estimated population of 9.974M, which reflects losses of about $191.60 on a per resident basis.

I’ll say this, for a state’s population who doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of its government, the gains of nearly 25% in loss per resident, comparing 2019 to 2021, sure would seem to say otherwise.

Either way, Michigan is one state for which the presence of a great many casinos does not seem detrimental to traditional forms of lottery as her residents seem more than eager to play the lottery’s games.

Minnesota

That brings us to Minnesota, for whom we have the 2021 Fiscal Year Annual Report available right here. Minnesota has a pretty fair assortment of gambling options, but its residents don’t seem particularly inclined to play the lottery or do much gambling at all, really.

The relevant findings from our previous study included:

Okay, apparently the lottery also gets a negligible amount of revenues even outside of this, so we see a total of 636,810,253 in total ticket sales against 395,592,006 in prizes for an overall return to player of 62.12% and total losses to the lottery of 241,218,247. Based on a population estimate of 5.64M for 2019, the loss per resident comes out to a low $42.77.

With that, we’re going to see if things have improved at all for the state’s lottery department.

Game Type  Sales (2019) Prizes (2019) Return to Player (2019) Sales (2021) Prizes (2021) Return to Player (2021)
Instant "Scratchers" 435,268,778  292,093,287 67.11% 615,569,031 416,551,644 67.67%
Drawing 201,541,475 103,498,719 51.35% 188,071,659 97,121,545 51.64%

 

The first thing that we note is that Instant Ticket sales have soared to $615,569,031 against $416,551,644 in prizes, which represents a Return to Player of 67.669%. This is slightly higher than it was before, so if Maine is any indication, we would attribute the change to a greater percentage of instant tickets being purchased at higher denominations, which generally tend to be slightly better returning.

In the meantime, Drawing Ticket sales came in at $188,071,659 against $97,121,545 paid out in prizes for a return to player of 51.641% on those games. This is a slightly greater percentage than our last study, but could simply be statistical noise just based on one extra jackpot or second from top jackpot being paid out.

In total, residents spent $803,640,690 and had $513,673,189 returned to them in prizes. The overall return to player for the lottery was 63.918%, which is more than 1.5% greater than last time around and is attributable directly do the change in Instant Tickets sold when compared to drawing tickets.

In the meantime, residents and visitors of the state lost a combined $289,967,501 to the state lottery, so as a result, based on a population of 5.6M, they lost $51.78/resident.

Whatever the lotteries are doing to push Instant Tickets, it’s evidently working in a great many states. While the average loss per resident in Minnesota remains low, they still added more than 20% in total loss per resident for the state lottery in FY21 compared to FY19, so whatever it is they are doing to compel people to buy their ridiculously poor returning 67.669% returning instant tickets, it’s working.

Mississippi

We didn’t know much about the Mississippi Lottery last time around as it had not even operated for a full year. What little that we did know was:

Unfortunately, it appears that Mississippi has yet to produce an annual report for a full year of operation. There are quarterly reports, so just sampling from one of those, total lottery returns were less than 60% despite the fact that more than 90% of the sales were on Instant Tickets.

Simply put, the Mississippi Lottery appears destined to be worse than most.

Anyway, we’re going to hope that was just a matter of nobody finding any top prizes in the Instant Ticket packs yet, otherwise, that’s a terrible return based on so much of the sales being in Instant Tickets.

Mississippi only seems to have an Annual Report for 2019, so I don’t know what’s going on with that, but they do release quarterly financial reports. With that, we found the one that correlates to the end of FY22, so this is information for the most recent year possible.

Of course, it doesn’t contain very much as these quarterly reports seem to list prizes as a single line item, but we will know at least what amount was sold on what type of ticket and the overall return to players.

We find that Instant Ticket Sales were $340,267,238.00 and represent 78.61% of all sales. IN terms of Drawing Tickets, $92,595,798.50 was the sales figure and that represented, naturally, 31.39% of all ticket sales. Total ticket sales were $432,863,036.50 against prizes of $251,256,201.04.

The one thing I should clarify is that the Mississippi Lottery has a Line Item for, “Tickets provided as prizes,” then adds that with cash prizes to come up with total prizes. Most lotteries have tickets that just win other tickets (rather than cash), but I typically like to only include CASH prizes whenever possible because that reflects money spent (on tickets) and actual cash paid out.

For example, let’s say you’re playing a slot machine and you bet $4 and get a result of ten free spins. You don’t get whatever you win from the Free Spins PLUS $40, it would be insane to count it that way, so that’s why I prefer to relegate reported lottery prizes to actual cash paid out whenever possible.

With that, I have residents and visitors to Mississippi losing $181,606,835 to the lottery. It’s one of the poorest states in the country with some of the poorest people in the country, in case you didn’t already know, so that’s just great. Oh, and it’s also evidently the state where they take Federal funds earmarked for welfare spending and use them for NFL Hall of Famers to build better volleyball courts for the daughter’s colleges, so that’s just terrific. Willfully hand your money over to the very same state government that screws your people over at every turn, who cares, right?

Anyway, the population of the state is about 2.982M, so residents are losing about $60.90, per year, on a per resident basis. You’d think they would be the lowest in this category with the lottery only being around for a couple of years and the residents mostly being impoverished, but sadly, nope.

Missouri

For Missouri, another state with plenty of gambling options, (though actual experience may vary depending on your proximity to a river) we have the report for the 2021 Fiscal Year available to us here. Before we get into that, let’s take a second to recall some of our relevant observations from the 2019 Fiscal Year:

The first thing that we find is a simple summary that separates lottery ticket sales from total prizes, so we can use this to ascertain the overall loss to the Lottery for that Fiscal Year and then gather our loss per resident. Lottery ticket sales totaled 1,466,028,703 for the year and prizes were 1,015,091,349 for a total return to player of 69.24%. Total losses amounted to 450,937,354, which based on a 2019 population estimate of 6.137M, comes out to a loss of $73.48/resident.

Last time, we were also able to find general sales and returns to player for some game types, so let’s go ahead and add that table here, then expand on it:

Game Type Sales (2019) Prizes (2019) Return-to-Player (2019) Sales (2021) Prizes (2021) RTP (2021)
Instant Tickets "Scratchers" 914,449,548  666,811,269  72.92% $1,215,705,180 875,392,754  72.01%
Drawing Tickets 437,528,006  245,716,968  56.16% 442,850,831 253,112,820  57.16%
Pull Tabs 114,051,149 102,563,112  89.93% 152,933,048 137,520,206 89.92%

 

One thing we are going to do differently is count Pull Tabs and Instant Tickets all as Instant Tickets just so that our table at the bottom of this work (the one containing every state) remains consistent. For the time being, we will list these things separately in the table above, but our totals in the paragraphs below will reflect Instant Tickets and Pull Tabs being classified together.

The first thing we note is that Instant + Pull Tabs come out to $1,368,638,228 in total sales. Instant ticket returns are down slightly, which goes against most of the states we have seen that are up slightly, but could just be a bit of variance on the big prizes. We’ve found that sales on the bigger denomination tickets ($5+) have gone up, as they have in other states that report such information, and tickets at the $1 & $2 price points have declined slightly, yet the returns to player are also slightly down.

Total prizes on Instant + Pull Tab sales amount to $1,012,912,960, so overall return to player is 74.009%% on the two types of tickets, combined, being pulled upwards by Pull Tab sales, which return as well as a great many slot machines. It’s interesting to see the trend towards higher denomination tickets continue, even though that trend does not seem to improve percentage return to player, at least, not in Missouri.

In the meantime, Drawing ticket sales increased slightly comparing FY21 to FY19, but not quite at the same rate as Instant Tickets + Pull Tabs. In any event, drawing tickets sold $442,850,831 worth of units and had a return to player of 57.155%, slightly better than FY19, but largely statistical noise, in all likelihood.

Total sales were $1,811,489,059 for FY21, total prizes were $1,266,025,780, so the overall RTP was 69.889%, thereabouts. It is worth mentioning that the high percentage return of Pull Tabs contributes to this to a certain extent.

Overall, Missouri residents and Show Me visitors would lose $545,463,279, but who needs over a half billion dollars anyway? Based on a population of about 6.124M, we have a loss, per resident, of about $89.07 to the Missouri lottery.

In terms of loss per resident, Missouri increased by a little over 21% for FY21 compared to FY19, mostly led by an increase in Instant Ticket sales (with larger denominations, in particular, becoming more popular) and to a lesser extent gains in Drawing Ticket sales and Pull Tabs. Taken alone, Pull Tabs actually had the largest gain in percentage, but obviously, Instant Ticket revenues are much higher.

Montana

For Montana, we have the Financial Summary available to us for the Fiscal Year ended June, 2021, which is unaudited, but these usually tend to be good enough.

It appears that Sports Betting also goes through the Montana Lottery, and represents a not insignificant percentage of the lottery’s total revenues, but will be ignored for these purposes as our focus is on traditional lottery.

Sports betting is a relatively recent add to this low-population state that had plenty of gambling options even before that. Casinos are widespread throughout the cities and towns of Montana, but basically amount to oversized slot parlors, for the most part. Most of Montana’s casinos consist of a bar and restaurant with some machines.

With that, Montanans are not wanting for gambling access, so we would continue to expect traditional lottery to not be the most popular method of scratching that gambling itch. With that, we will recall some of our relevant observations from the 2019 Fiscal Year:

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player
Instant Tickets 18,531,003 11,110,279 59.96%
Drawing Tickets 41,723,120 23,382,132 56.04%

 

In addition to the fact that Instant Ticket returns are poorer than other states, Montana is one of the only states for which they are not meaningfully better than Drawing Game returns. With that said, Drawing Games return better than those of other states, slightly, but a disproportionate number of big winners could be making that difference given how low overall sales are.

The result is that total losses to the Montana Lottery for Fiscal Year 2019 amounted to $25,761,712, which based on a population estimate of 1.069M for the year amounts to an average loss per resident of $24.10. This makes it one of the lowest losses in the entire country, on a per resident basis. The main reason why is because, as mentioned before, residents have a wide variety of better gambles readily available to them.

The first thing that we note is Instant Ticket sales have improved with $28,496,364 in Instant Ticket sales of which $18,838,885 was returned to players in the form of prizes for total Return to Player percentage of 66.11%. In other words, the Instant Ticket returns are significantly better which is probably attributable to an increase in higher denomination tickets sold, but is also significant enough that the games are probably a bit better. Either way, it’s paying off, as profits from Instant Tickets would also have increased, even with the improved RTP.

Drawing Ticket sales also improved slightly compared to FY19, but Instant Ticket sales soared in comparison. Total Drawing game sales amounted to $42,241,472 for Fiscal Year 2021, which reflects a relative increase of just over half a million dollars whereas Instant Ticket sales increased by almost ten million dollars comparing the two periods. Drawing Games returned a total of $24,306,469 in prizes to player, so the return on those is 57.542%, a slight increase there. We would attribute this difference to variance, especially given the small sample size of lottery ticket sales that Montana represents.

Total traditional lottery sales were $70,737,836 against $43,145,354 being returned in prizes for an overall return to player of 60.993% and total player losses to traditional lottery of $27,592,482. Based on the state’s population of 1.062M, this represents losses of $25.98, per resident of the state.

Overall, the Montana Lottery made 7.801% more, on a per resident basis, in FY21 as compared to FY19, so the increase is not as pronounced as other states. Once again, this is isolating traditional lottery types, so the lottery’s overall gains were actually better than this as at least some (maybe all) of Montana’s legal sports betting is handled through the lottery department.

We also notice that, while there were increases to both, the increase to Instant Ticket sales, comparing the two periods, increased well over the increase to Drawing ticket sales. As much as I would like to attribute same to people realizing how bad the edge is against them on Drawing Tickets, it’s tough to do, because Drawing Ticket sales still increased at the end of the day. That said, it is possible that, a few years down the line, Instant Ticket sales overtake drawing ticket sales in Montana, as they tend to do in so many other states.

Nebraska

As we noted in our other study, Nebraska doesn’t have as much access to different forms of gambling as many other states do, and that remains true to this day. We have the 2021 Annual Report for Nebraska’s Lottery at the ready, so let’s dive in and see how this comparison goes.

Before we do that, let’s remind ourselves of exactly what we are comparing against:

Unfortunately, all sales and prizes paid out are listed as total line items and are not broken down in any way whatsoever, so the result is that we simply don't have a whole heck of a lot to work with. What we do have is total sales of 192,125,860 against total prizes of 113,305,246 for an overall return to player of 58.97% and total losses of $78,820,614.

The population estimate for 2019 was 1.934M, thereby resulting in an average loss per resident of about $40.76.

Once again, the Nebraska Lottery does not break sales or prizes up into ticket types, so we just have line items reflecting the overall numbers for both. Lottery ticket sales were up to $208,146,715 against prize payouts of $122,341,140 for total player losses of $85,805,575 and return to player of 58.776% overall, which we would think reflects a high percentage of drawing ticket sales as compared to instance. At least, we would assume the ratio favors drawing tickets more so than it does in other states.

These losses of $85,805,575 against a population of 1.924M, would lead to losses, per resident of about $44.60, roughly a 9.421% increase in losses per resident in FY21 compared to FY19. We can hope that future reports will contain more information that might be of concern to actual players, but we’re not counting on it.

Nevada

Nevada remains without a state lottery, but there are a great number of lottery retailers sitting on the borders patiently waiting to sell Powerball and Mega Millions tickets if the jackpots get high enough to be of interest to Nevada residents.

This article opines that it is the casinos who want to keep it this way, but even if that were the case, why should anyone want yet another state to have a lottery? To whatever extent that some Nevada casinos still offer decent games, it could be argued that they come largely as a result of Nevada’s low tax rate against casino revenues and the fact that the state doesn’t have a lottery, so casinos and bars are where to find the action.

More than that, one general observation that we have made over the years is that the lotteries often don’t do as well, on a per resident basis, in states that have a wide variety of other gambling options.

A high percentage of Nevada’s gambling tax proceeds comes from out-of-towners anyway, and I would think that those folks are not going to play the Nevada lottery very much, even if one did exist. Why would they? Personally, I like the idea of Nevada just letting the other states have their lotteries, and in the meantime, tax dollars that come in as a result of gambling proceeds can largely be added to the coffers by out-of-staters.

My favorite quote from the article is:

As in other states, that revenue could be put toward great causes.

Yeah, biting on the company’s bait…hook, line and sinker.

New Hampshire

We think that it will remain true that New Hampshire residents will continue not to have much of an interest in gambling, at least not in state, as they don’t have to go too far to get to major casinos. Those who prefer cards can find card games in the state’s cozy little cardrooms if they are looking for a good time.

With that, we find the 2021 Annual Report for New Hampshire’s Lottery, and as before, we should highlight some of our relevant observations from our last study before we dive into all of that:

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player
Instant 250,477,088  170,732,028  68.20%
Keno 26,959,048  18,491,109  68.60%
Tri-State Games 27,582,991 14,783,734 53.60%
MUSL Games 69,227,769  33,492,462  48.40%
Lucky For Life 5,606,632  3,312,360  59.10%

 

In total, we see that all prizes come out to 240,811,693 against lottery sales of 379,853,528 for traditional lottery types, thereby resulting in an overall return to player of 63.4% and total losses of 139,041,835. Based on a population estimate of 1.36 million for 2019, we come up with an average loss, per resident, of about $102.24, which makes this one of the more played state lotteries.

For these purposes, Keno is going to be treated as a drawing game, so we have 250.48M in Instant Ticket sales for the FY19 study and 129.38M, roughly, in drawing ticket sales. Instant ticket RTP’s amounted to 68.2% in that study, and now lumping Keno into Draw Games (which it is, especially with these garbage returns) for Drawing Ticket RTP of 54.167% overall, even with Keno helping out.

With that, we find that Instant Ticket sales have increased to $320,336,405 for FY21 compared to FY19. Similarly, Drawing Ticket sales have increased to $151,091,473 for FY21 as compared to FY19. It should be noted that Drawing Tickets include Keno whilst iLottery, Sports Betting and Racing + Charitable Gambling are being ignored as not traditional lottery.

Instant Ticket sales, therefore, enjoyed an increase of 27.891% between the two periods studied. In the meantime, Drawing Ticket sales improved, between the same two periods, by about 16.781%. With that, we note that both have gained, but as we see elsewhere in the country, the popularity of Instant Tickets is increasing at a faster rate than that of Drawing Tickets. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that the average ticket is also sold at a higher price point.

The return to player on Instant Tickets was $221,774,478 in cash, which represents a return to player of 69.232%. The slight gain in RTP percentage on Instant Tickets we would attribute to a probable increase in the percentage of Instant Tickets sold at higher denominations, which tend to have a slightly better return to player than the cheapest tickets.

The Drawing Games saw players returned total prizes of $89,144,822, which represents a return to player percentage of 59%, which marks a substantial increase entirely attribute to Keno gaining a greater percentage of the market share as compared to FY19. For their part, Keno games returned about 69.5% this time around, which is much better than most other Drawing Games.

Total sales were $471,427,878 for traditional forms of lottery whereas total prizes amounted to $310,919,300, reflecting overall RTP percentage of 65.953%. The total amount lost to the New Hampshire lottery, by residents and leaf-peepers (visitors) was $160,508,578, so based on a population of 1.355M, losses on a per resident basis were $118.46; that reflects an increase in loss per resident, 2021 compare to 2019, of 15.865%.

New Hampshire is another state that saw increased sales for all types of traditional lottery, though as with most other states, Instant Tickets are increasing at a far faster rate than drawing tickets. We maintain that the main influences are not only more higher denomination Instant Tickets being put out there, but also, larger denomination ones being bought at increasing proportions compared to cheaper ones.

New Jersey

People from New Jersey sure do like to gamble, so I guess the property taxes must not be THAT bad. There’s a ton of money in the state; wealthy people, such as Dr. Mehmet Oz, live there. In any event, their lottery report for Fiscal Year 2021 has been published and is available to us.

As we have with the other states, we’re going to take a minute to recollect some of the relevant findings from Fiscal Year 2019:

The first financial page relevant to us simply lists overall sales and prizes that were paid out, so we see that the state had 3.482B in sales and paid out 2.087B in prizes for Fiscal Year 2019, which results in an overall return of about 59.94% considering all games and losses in the neighborhood of 1.395B. The estimated population for the state was 8.882M for 2019, so we can surmise that the average loss to the lottery, per resident, was about $157.06.

In skimming our findings for that year, it would appear that New Jersey did not list separate totals for prizes whatsoever, and instead listed all of them as a single line item despite the fact that sales were listed for every single individual game. Judging from the average amount that a New Jersey resident lost to the lottery in FY19, they really don’t seem to care about the RTP’s of the game they are playing, though I certainly would enjoy being able to tell them anyway.

The first thing we find is that total traditional lottery sales amounted to 3.684B dollars, which is all we are going to care about for this study if they do not publish the prizes for at least the individual general game types. Prize expenses, as a single line item, were about 2.245B, so that creates a loss of about 1.439B for New Jersey residents and guests of the Garden State, which reflects an overall return to player percentage of 60.939%. RTP percentage increased by about 1%, which we would assume reflects a greater percentage of Instant Ticket sales increases proportionate to those of drawing tickets as that would be consistent with other states.

The population of New Jersey is about 8.885M, so total losses to the lottery, on a per resident basis, were about $161.96. With that, we see loss per resident grew, comparing the two Fiscal Years, by about 3.12%. We would attribute this slower growth (compared to some other states) to the wide variety of gambling options available to New Jersey residents as well as some of the strict lockdown measures as a result of the pandemic, which our sample could not completely avoid.

At a glance, we found that Instant Ticket sales increases, as we suspected, slightly outpaced sales of Drawing Tickets. In particular, Powerball sales performed meaningfully less than the state had originally forecasted (most other ticket types beat expectations), probably due to the change in Powerball rules.

New Mexico

New Mexico is one state that includes a fair amount of information in its lottery report, at least, when compared to New Jersey above. The data that we want for Fiscal Year 2021 can be found here, so let’s compare that with some of our findings from the 2019 Fiscal Year, which were, as relevant:

They have some of the worst Instant Ticket returns that you'll find anywhere! Even by lottery standards, 55.18% on Instant Tickets is absolutely abysmal. There are many state lotteries where even the $1 tickets exclusively do not pay that badly!

In total, the remaining $68,689,613 of tickets sold we will classify as Drawing Game Tickets, not that it makes much of a difference in this state. Those games had total prizes of $35,691,042 for a total return to player of 51.96% on those, all told. Drawing tickets might have been even better than instant tickets if residents could have stayed away from those multi-state jackpots.

Total prizes amounted to $77,040,374 against total sales of $143,630,735 for a total loss to the residents and lottery players from out of state of $66,590,361. Based on an estimated population of 2.097M for 2019, we find that New Mexicans lost an average of about $31.76 on a per resident basis.

In general terms, New Mexico is also one of the poorer states and also has residents with access to a wide array of different ways to gamble. That being the case, we found that the lottery does not perform particularly well in New Mexico, compared to other states, on the basis of loss per resident.

Instant Ticket sales for FY21 were $95,072,437 as compared to $74,941,122 for FY19, which represents an increase of 26.863%, when comparing the two. Instant Ticket prizes were $53,204,870, which reflects an overall return to player of about 55.962%, so these continue to be some of the worst Instant Ticket returns you will find in the country.

That leaves a total of $59,412,866 for Drawing Ticket sales, which is a decline of about 13.5% when compared to FY19. Drawing ticket prizes were $31,564,216, which reflects a return to player of about 53.127%. We suspect that the increase to percentage RTP for Drawing Tickets, combined with the decline in sales, comes as a result of Powerball and Mega Millions dropping in sales. Looking back at the 2019 Fiscal Year report, this hypothesis proves true as sales for both games dropped significantly when comparing FY21 to FY19.

Total sales were $154,884,903 for FY21 compared to total sales of $143,630,735 for FY19, so despite the significant drop in Mega Millions and Powerball sales, the increase to Instant Ticket sales more than made up for it. Total prizes were $84,769,086, which means that residents and guests of the state lost $70,115,817 to the New Mexico lottery on overall RTP percentage of 54.73%.

Given these losses and the population of New Mexico being reported as about 2.097M, we find that about $33.44 was lost on a per resident basis. In loss per resident terms, the lottery did about 5.29% better for Fiscal Year 2021 than it did in Fiscal Year 2019. We tend to think that some residents realize how poor New Mexico’s instant ticket games are, so that combined with Powerball and Mega Millions seemingly falling out of favor leads to New Mexico not enjoying the increase in loss per resident that some other states’ lotteries have.

New York

Residents of New York have a wide variety of gambling options at their disposal, both in and around their home state, though all indications are that the traditional forms of lottery still perform extremely well. What bodes well for traditional lottery in the state is the presence of several big cities, not least of which is New York City, obviously, and a reasonably high percentage of residents in the income range that correlates well with lottery playing frequency and spend.

While there have been no published Comprehensive Annual Reports since FY ended 2020, what we do find is an audited financial report for Fiscal Year ended in March of 2022, so that’s pretty awesome news for us. Before we dive into that, let us take a minute to recall some of our relevant findings from the 2019 Fiscal Year’s comprehensive report we conducted:

The first thing that we find is that traditional lottery games brought in a total of 8.209B for Fiscal Year 2019, when compared to the 4.919B in prizes, we see that the lottery returned, overall, about 59.92% of all monies bet to players and that players lost about 3.29B to the state's lottery. The estimated population for the State of New York for 2019 was 19.45M, so we see that the average loss, per resident, was about $169.15, which is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum.

As we can see, total lottery returns are largely propped up by a high percentage of the lottery sales being instant tickets, which return roughly in line with lottery averages. Drawing tickets, overall, return about 52.19% to players, which is roughly where you would expect those to be. It would be sub-50%, except the Quick Draw game is saving the overall body of players from losing more than half of all monies bet on drawing games.

In addition, we found that Instant ticket games did a total of about $4,226,735,000 in sales for FY 2019 while drawing ticket sales would total about $3,981,375,000.

For comparison, Instant Ticket sales would reach 4.518B for Fiscal Year 2022, which reflects a gain in sales of about 6.884% when compared to FY19. Additionally, we find that sales of all drawing tickets, combined, would total 3.66B, which reflects a decline of about 8.77%.

Total sales for the lottery amounted to about 8.178B for traditional lottery (video lottery is not counted) as compared to about 8.208B for FY19, which means that New York is one of the few states to decline in overall sales, and with all probability, will also decline in overall loss per resident due to the fact that Instant Ticket sales gained traction and Drawing Ticket sales declined.

Instant Ticket prizes were about 3.091B, so reflect a loss to players of about 1.427B and an approximate RTP percentage of about 68.415%. We would attribute the slight upward movement in Instant Ticket RTP to more people playing higher denomination tickets, as we have seen in most other states as a percentage of sales, as those tickets tend to have a better RTP than the bargain basement ones do.

Drawing Ticket prizes would total about 1.811B, which reflects a loss to players of about 1.849B and reflects a return to player of about 49.481%. This is due to a general decline in the return percentages on most drawing ticket types, but most notably, Quick Draw, dropping nearly 7%, perhaps just due to variance. This actually bucks the trend of slightly higher drawing games returns in other states, which itself is mostly due to declining sales in Powerball and Mega Millions.

Total sales were $8,178,081,000 against prizes of $4,902,482,000, which represents a total return to player percentage of about 59.953%. This is a slight upward change (about 0.7%) from the previous year led by the increase in instant ticket sales, probably at better returning high denominations, combined with the fact that the RTP on Instant Tickets itself increased a bit.

Losses to the New York State Lottery, by residents and visitors alike, would total $3,275,599,000 for Fiscal Year 2022, which is excellent, because New York is a state that has long been praised for its total lack of Government corruption. In any event, the population of the state is about 19.51M, leading to a loss per resident, to traditional forms of lottery, of about $167.89.

With that, New York actually experienced a decline in loss, per resident, of 0.75% and is the only state that we have observed, where numbers are known, to do so thus far. The reason that we identify for this is the slump in Powerball and Mega Millions sales, which were once much more popular games in the state, and are also the highest house edge lottery games out there.

North Carolina

As we mentioned last time, North Carolinians don’t exactly have a bevy of gambling options available to them, so the state lottery tends to perform pretty well. We have a relatively short report from the North Carolina Lottery regarding the 2021 Fiscal Year to look at. Before we get into that, let’s briefly remember a few of our findings from the 2019 Fiscal Year:

The first thing that we note is that the lottery had a total of 2,859,624,000 in sales against 1,845,287,000 in prizes. This results in an overall return to lottery players of 64.53%, which is better than others in the overall sense and is probably propped up by a positive proportion of instant ticket purchasing.

Alliteration aside, players found themselves losing a total of about 1,014,337,000 to the lottery for 2019, which based on a population estimate of 10.49M comes out to about $96.70 in losses, per resident. This will definitely put North Carolina safely in the top half of lottery losses per resident.

Unfortunately, 2020 is the most recent comprehensive financial report available, which is the year that we don’t want due to influences from the pandemic, so we do not know what the prize distribution was by individual game type. However, one section of the 2021 brief report that I found interesting concerned the sales of Instant Tickets and had this to say:

Gross instant ticket sales were $2.561 billion for fiscal year 2021 compared with $2.089 billion for fiscal year 2020 and $1.909 billion for fiscal year 2019, an increase of approximately $472 million from fiscal year 2020 and approximately $652 million from fiscal year 2019. The increase in instant ticket sales in 2021 was once again driven by growth at the $5, $10, and $20 price points, which combined experienced a 25% increase over the previous year.

This all but confirms our assertion that the increased Instant Ticket revenues and returns to player (all but across the map) are both owing to a greater proportion of the sales being of higher denomination tickets, which tend to be better returning.

As far as the sales and percentage returns to player are concerned for both Instant and Drawing Tickets, we may update those at a later time should the comprehensive annual report ever become available. Similarly, we are waiting for basically anything at all from states such as California and Delaware…which are some years behind in the release of this information.

In any event, total sales for the North Carolina lottery appear to have been $3,805,352,369 against total prizes of $2,462,425,000, which reflects a cash loss of $1,342,927,369 for residents and guests of the state and that much more in the lottery’s coffers. The total percentage return to player is roughly 64.71%, which is an increase over the 64.53% that we saw for Fiscal Year 2019, but only a slight increase. We suspect the reason to be the fact that drawing ticket sales also increased dramatically, despite both Powerball and Mega Millions sales falling.

The population of the state is about 10.39M, so that reflects a loss per resident of about $129.25 for Fiscal Year 2021, thus, a 33.661% gain in loss per resident, comparing the two years, which is one of the largest in the entire country. Kentucky might end up being the only one larger, but that is a statistically remarkable increase and a huge outlier, so I suppose you will just have to read on or jump to the table at the bottom to find out.

North Dakota

In terms of loss per resident, we will recall that North Dakota was one of the lowest states in the country in that regard, probably owing largely to how spread out its state’s few residents are. In fact, the only states lower are states that don’t have a lottery to begin with, at least, as far as FY19 went.

Fortunately, the financial statement for Fiscal Year ended 2021 is released for this lottery, so we will have the opportunity to see if North Dakota’s residents remain the least likely to lose money to the lottery in the entire country, again, just based on states that actually have a lottery. Before we get into that, it will be important that we recall some details from our previous comprehensive study:

The first thing relevant to us is that total ticket sales amounted to 35,352,991 for the year in question against 18,240,852 paid out in prizes for a total return to player of 51.6%, which is putrid, even by state lottery standards.

North Dakotans would lose $17,112,139 to the lottery that year, which based on 2019 population estimates of 762,062, reflects losses of about $22.46/resident. Just as we suspected, North Dakotans are mostly uninterested in playing the lottery, though for many of them who otherwise might, they are not geographically convenient to a lottery retailer.

Based on the previous analysis, I’m going to guess that the information related to prizes paid out was either unavailable, or perhaps they only have drawing games. Glancing over this report, it looks like all of their games are multi-state lottery games, with the lone exception being 2by2, which is a drawing game in-state, so they do not seem to have instant tickets whatsoever.

For 2021, North Dakota sold $30,383,394 in tickets, which reflects a substantial decline as compared to 2019, and paid out $16,276,625 in prizes, thereby resulting in a return to player percentage of 53.571%, which is higher than last time, probably due to a decrease in Powerball and Mega Millions sales (the worst returning games) when comparing the two periods.

The total amount lost by residents appears to be $14,106,769, so based on a population of 760,394, we find that $18.55 was lost on a per resident basis, a 21.078% decline, which is the largest decline we have seen by far, and only the second overall decline, so far.

It would seem that North Dakota has a great chance of losing the least amount, per resident, to the lottery for the second consecutive analysis that we have done!

Ohio

For the Buckeye State, we do have their Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2021 available to us here, so this will give us an opportunity to dig in and see how the lottery performed. The cover page immediately tells us that it was a record breaking year, I assume for revenues, which is the case for a great many states for the 2021 Fiscal Year and probably will be, once again, for 2022.

Before we get into that, we should start by pulling a few of the highlights from our 2019 findings, so here they are:

The first thing that we find is that ticket sales totaled 3,360,764,000, compared to 2,139,841,000 in prizes, so that is an overall return to player of 63.67%, which is better than some lotteries. Better than most, actually. Ohio residents would lose 1,220,923,000 to the lottery for that fiscal year which, based on the estimated population of 11.69M, comes out to losses of about $104.44/resident.

In the meantime, we note that Ohio remains as a state in which residents have access to a great many varied forms of gambling, though casino gambling is largely going to depend on your proximity to one of Ohio’s major cities. There are a rare few out of the way racinos, but even then, you would still need to have transportation to get to them.

If the trend in other states holds true for Ohio, then we will expect Instant Ticket sales to have surpassed drawing ticket sales by now, given their close proximity to one another as recently as FY19. Furthermore, we will expect that higher denomination instant tickets will have become more popular, and as a result, will yield an increased RTP percentage—slightly.

Furthermore, if Instant Ticket sales do increase to exceed Drawing Ticket sales, then we will also expect the overall RTP percentage, which was 63.67% in 2019, to have also increased slightly due to the proportion of Instant Tickets sold.

Immediately, we find that Instant Ticket Sales of $2,315,934,000 have outpaced the Drawing Ticket Sales of $2,014,300,000, as we suspected they would, and that’s incorporating everything possible into Drawing Ticket sales, such as Keno and all EZ Play type games without breaking down the individual EZ Play games to determine if any could even be categorized as Instant, instead. Total sales were $4,330,234,000.

We find that scratch-off prizes totaled $1,673,400,000, which reflects RTP of about 72.257%, this is exactly as we figured as we expected Instant Tickets to follow the general national trend of gravitating towards sales of higher denomination tickets, which also tend to have better returns to player, for what that’s worth.

Drawing based games, which includes all other games, had prizes of $1,168,200,000 awarded to players, therefore, the RTP was about 58% (rounds up) on those. The increase here is negligible, but if it could be attributed to anything, then we would attribute it to Mega Millions and Powerball representing a slightly lower percentage of the tickets sold, as they have in other states.

The total amount lost by Buckeye State residents and visitors would amount to about $1,488,600,000, thereby reflecting an overall RTP of about 65.623%, which compares favorably to the 63.67% that we saw in 2019’s Fiscal Year, again, as a result of Instant Ticket sales overtaking Drawing Ticket sales to such a large degree. While both types of tickets enjoyed revenue gains, the gains were almost double comparing Instant Ticket gains to those of Drawing Tickets.

Given the state’s population of 11.68M people, the loss per resident amounts to $127.45, on a per resident basis. That reflects an increase of about 22.032% comparing the 2021 Fiscal Year for the Ohio Lottery to the one that we observed in 2019. That’s a strong increase in loss per resident that is on par with a great many other states.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma is another state with a wide variety of gambling outlets, mostly in the form of Tribal Casinos with their spreads of Class II and Class III machines. Live Bingo is also a popular game in some areas and is always a good time. Their lottery consistently releases the Annual Report in a timely fashion, and so we have it for the 2021 Fiscal Year, and will compare the results to our 2019 findings:

In the form of the Annual Lottery Report, specifically, we will focus on Fiscal Year 2019.

The first thing that we note is that revenues from games were 241,693,417 and total prizes were 141,324,235 which results in an overall return to player of 58.47%. Residents and visitors would lose $100,369,182 to the lottery for Fiscal Year 2019, which based on an estimated population of 643,692 for the year, amounts to $155.93/resident.

This time around, we find that Instant Ticket sales were $256,040,427, which is…a substantial increase when compared to the 135.97M we saw in 2019. I’d have difficulty even explaining roughly 88.306% sales gains, but there they are. Drawing ticket sales, however, slumped to 90.71M, so we expect overall return to player to be higher than in 2019.

We find that Instant Ticket prizes were $181,477,821, which reflects a return to player of about 70.879%, which we would think points to a greater proportion of sales than before being on higher denomination tickets with slightly better returns. Drawing Ticket prizes amounted to amounted to $46,047,457 which results in a return to player of 50.763%. My guess is this relates to a decline in the purchase of drawing games with the lowest returns, such as Powerball and Mega Millions, and a look back at the 2019 report confirms these suspicions.

The total amount of tickets sold was $346,750,742 and the total amount in prizes was $227,525,278. There were more than 3.5 million in unclaimed winners, but we don’t care about that in our reporting, because if someone wants to play a 50-60% returning game and STILL fail to cash in their winning tickets, then they get what they get. Overall return to player soared to 65.616%, which is a direct result of the popularity of Instant Tickets taking off and fewer sales for Drawing type games.

The overall loss that residents and visitors to the Sooner State took to the lottery was $119,225,464, which based on a population of 3.949 million, reflects an average loss of $30.19 per resident. I am also correcting the loss per resident to $25.52 in the table at the bottom of this page because I somehow messed up and looked at the population for some other state when doing Oklahoma last time around. I’m not surprised that I never caught that, but I am surprised that nobody caught that as the previous study has attracted some number of views.

In any case, the loss per resident for FY21 was up about 18.3% compared to FY19.

Oregon

The most recent report available for Oregon is the Fiscal Year ended June of 2021, which contains more of the pandemic lockdown periods (especially for Oregon, one of the most stringent states in that regard) than we might want, but we do what we can with what we have. In any event, if other reports have been any indication, we would expect that the Oregon Lottery still had a better year than it did in FY19, but we might be surprised.

Before we get into this report, we should first highlight some of our relevant points from our 2019 Fiscal Year study:

The first thing that we will note is that we are only looking at the traditional lottery for these purposes. The first page relevant to us lists the sales separately by general game types, but not prizes. Either way, sales totaled $380,051,099 of which $239,044,444 was returned in prizes. This results in an overall return to player of 62.9%, which is on the high end of average.

Oregon residents and visitors would lose $141,006,655 to the state for this Fiscal Year, so based on a population estimate of 4.218M for 2019, residents lost an average of $33.43.

I’ve also noticed that prizes were treated as a single line item in the 2019 report, so I will expect for that to remain the same, which means that we won’t have as much information as we want, as the public deserves to know and as we enjoyed in a great many other states.

Total lottery sales would have been $438,120,362, though I am counting something called, “Score It,” as traditional lottery because, I assume, those returns to player are lumped into total prizes. Because of that, I don’t really have much of a choice. Total prizes returned to players were $266,065,927. Obviously, video lottery proceeds are not being included in sales because that is not traditional lottery whatsoever and, I believe, mostly refers to the states VLT facilities that other parts of the country sometimes term, “Slot parlors.”

The overall return to player, based on these assumptions, would be 60.729%, which is generally in line with traditional lottery returns to player; it also makes particular sense in Oregon as Drawing Ticket sales outpaced the sales of Instant Tickets, probably due to the wide availability of better returning Video Lottery products as opposed to purchasing scratchers.

The amount lost by residents of Oregon, and those visiting the state, was about $172,054,435. Again, Score It is being included as traditional lottery because it seems that is where Oregon’s report would put it. The population of Oregon is about 4.176M, so the amount lost, per resident, works out to about $41.20.

We notice that the average loss per resident has increased by about 23.243%, this is despite the fact that Instant Ticket sales are still not to the level of Drawing Ticket sales, though as a percentage, seem to be gaining traction as an overall percentage of traditional lottery sales and are increasing at a faster rate. We would normally expect this to correlate to a better return to player, but it doesn’t, so perhaps there was a big jackpot in 2019, or something. Without knowing the prizes awarded by game type, it’s difficult to even hazard a guess at anything since this does not seem to follow the results of other states.

Another possibility is that Oregon’s tickets just suck, in terms of RTP, compared to other states, so these increases wouldn’t matter. I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, but that would totally explain the state ONLY reporting prizes as a single line item, perhaps they don’t want the public to know it if the Instant Ticket returns are considerably less than other states.

Pennsylvania

For the State of Pennsylvania, we are provided with the Keystone State’s Annual Report for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year, which can be found here. This is something of a condensed report that lists prizes as a single line item, though it does at least separate sales into different categories.

There’s also a section for iLottery, but the PA iLottery also sells traditional drawing tickets on the website, so those numbers will have to be added into the physical traditional lottery sales.

The iLottery also has some games that aren’t exactly slot machines and aren’t exactly Pull Tabs, but are sort of a mix of the two. These tend to have a higher return than traditional lottery types, so for that reason, we are not going to incorporate those games into our traditional lottery figures. If you had to think of it as anything, think of it as Video Lottery that is played online, instead.

Furthermore, I don’t understand why anyone would be playing those games in a state where online gambling is legal, but nevertheless, some (though not many) people apparently are.

We will also recollect our relevant findings from the 2019 report:

In any event, traditional lottery sales totaled 4,503,328,678 for the year of 2019 with a total of 2,927,074,532 in prize liabilities, which comes out to an overall 65.00% return-to-player. Residents and visitors would lose $1,576,254,146 to the state lottery during that physical year, so based on an estimated population of 12.8 million, the average resident lost $123.14 to this shady as hell state lottery.

Even more than physical casinos (though scattered), you’ll find many Games of Skill spread across the State of Pennsylvania. The state lottery bemoans the fact that they are losing revenue to these machines, but this will give us the opportunity to see if the loss, per resident, for Keystone State denizens bears this claim out.

Scratch-off, “Instant Ticket,” sales totaled $3,513,376,188 for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year, but we’re not going to bother putting that in the table because prizes are listed as a single line item, so we don’t know what amount of prizes went to Instant tickets and what amount went to Drawing Tickets. All other sales totaled $1,495,3889,607, so it would appear that residents at least recognize (for the most part) that drawing games are even worse than Instants.

The total for physical traditional lottery sales is $5,008,765,795, but Drawing tickets can also be purchased online. The total for online Drawing Ticket sales appears to be $20,921,218, which brings us to new total sales of $5,029,687,013. Total prizes for physical traditional lottery sales were $3,369,989,662 and we must add to that $8,134,510 for the online drawing ticket sales.

One thing worth noting is that we get a snapshot of Drawing Ticket returns from the online sales, because all online sales are Drawing Tickets. It’s a small sample, but the return based on that sample of Drawing games is 38.882%, so I’m going to say those players just ran like crap.

Total sales of all traditional lottery types, both physical and online, were $5,029,687,013 against total prizes of $3,378,124,172, which reflects total losses to PA residents and visitors of $1,651,562,841. The overall RTP has increased to 67.164%, which we would attribute to increasing sales of Instant Tickets, and, we assume, a slightly higher proportion of those sales being higher denomination tickets as compared to before.

Given the state’s population of about 12.79M, this represents a loss, per resident, of about $129.13. Comparing the FY22 to the FY19 period, we note an increase of about 4.864% in loss per resident, so the Skill Games aren’t causing the lottery to drop in sales, per se, though we must admit that it is possible those machines are slowing lottery growth as we have seen far greater increases in many other states.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s small population in a small state is not wanting for ways to gamble. IN addition to their own casinos, there are presently casinos in all of the surrounding states. We have the state lottery’s Annual Report for the 2021 Fiscal Year available here, so let’s see how this state compares to some others.

Before we do that, however, it will be important for us to take a look at some of the relevant findings from the 2019 Fiscal Year that we detailed in our previous study:

The relevant games for this page are Instant Tickets which resulted in 102,914,666 in revenues as well as drawing tickets which were good for 160,361,098. This results in a total of $263,275,764 in traditional lottery revenues.

Casinos in the state also operate by way of the lottery, so there are video lottery and table games revenue sharing to be considered, but those things are of no concern to this report.

The report later states that total prize awards were 61.42% return to player for traditional lottery, which means that players received $161,703,974.2 in overall prizes. That being the case, players lost a total of $101,571,789 to the lottery, which based on a population estimate of 1.059M for 2019, comes out to about $95.91 per resident.

Later on in the report, we find that Instant Ticket prizes were 71,047,693, which means that Instant Tickets had a return to player of 69.04%.

Drawing games returned 94,219,635 in prizes, so 58.75% was the overall return to player of drawing games.

We hope that it will continue to be so that the different prizes of the general games continue to be reflected in the state’s report, which we expect that they will.

The first thing we find is that Instant Ticket sales were $134,625,405 in sales, which represents an increase of about 30.813% relative to FY19. Drawing ticket sales came in at $154,163,448, which is about a 4.0202% decline compared to our previous study and basically follows national trends.

Because Instant Ticket sales have increased, Drawing Ticket sales have declined, and the gap between the two has closed somewhat, we anticipate that there will be a slightly better overall RTP this time around. We are also ignoring iLottery first because the sales are negligible, and secondly, because I don’t know what exactly the games consist of. They might not be traditional lottery-type games, but honestly, the revenues are so miniscule that it’s not even worth looking into.

Instant ticket prizes would total $93,520,704, thereby making the return to player of Instant Tickets 69.467%, which is a slight increase relative to our previous report. This is either statistical noise or reflects a slight tendency for proportions of Instant Ticket sales to gravitate towards higher, thus better returning, ticket denominations.

Drawing ticket prizes totaled $90,292,181, with more than half of both sales and prizes coming from the state’s Keno game, easily the game with the best return to player. Return to Player on Drawing Tickets decreased to 58.569%, which is moved upward by the fact that Keno returns 64.915% and is the biggest seller…though still represents a slight decline in overall Drawing game RTP which is almost certainly just noise.

With respect to the Traditional Lottery, total sales amounted to $288,788,853, which might be more $1 bills than can even fit in Rhode Island. Total prizes amounted to $183,812,885, thereby resulting in an overall Return to Player of about 63.65%, greater than the 61.42% from our previous study, and due exclusively to the increase in Instant Ticket sales and decline in Drawing Ticket sales, particularly, declines in the worst returning Drawing games.

The total losses incurred by Rhode Island Lottery players amount to $104,975,968, so based on a population of 1.058M, losses would be about $99.22, per resident, which is an increase of about 3.451% compared to Fiscal Year 2019.

It would seem that the increases to Rhode Island’s loss per resident aren’t as great as they are in some of the other states, though it would be tough to identify any specific reason why. The general national trend of people gravitating towards Instant Tickets and away from Drawing Tickets is certainly reflected, though.

South Carolina

For residents of South Carolina who want to get their gambling fix offline, the lottery is pretty much the only game in town. The state tends to oppose expansion to most other forms of gambling, for the most part and is not home to any commercial casinos. For that reason, the loss per resident was one of the higher ones in the nation for our Fiscal Year 2019 study.

We have the Annual Report for the Fiscal Year ended in 2021 available here, so that will give us the opportunity to dive in and see if the state’s passion for playing the lottery remains as vociferous as it was in our earlier study. It will also be interesting to see if they share the tendency of gravitating away from Drawing Games to Instant Games as have the majority of the states thus far.

Before we get into that, however, let’s take a look at some of those numbers from last time around:

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player
Instant 1.4504B 1.0586B 72.99%
Drawing 530.5M 253.5M 47.79%

 

It would appear that the Instant Games return better than average whilst the drawing games return significantly less than average. It's a pretty safe guess that the multi-state lottery games make up a sizable percentage of the drawing ticket sales.

Overall, residents of the state would lose about 668.8M to the lottery for Fiscal Year 2019, so based on an estimated population of 5.149M for that time, the average loss per resident was about $129.89.

I think an increase in Instant Ticket sales should be a pretty safe guess as it already appears that the residents have always loved those.

We find that Instant Tickets did $1,763,009,448 billion in total sales, which reflects an increase of 21.55% as compared to FY2019. Total Instant Ticket prizes were $1,281,692,476, thereby resulting in a return to player of 72.7%. While we note that the Instant Ticket return to player dropped slightly compared to FY19, there is a possibility that it is just statistical noise from a few big winners being found one year and not the other. Beyond that, this remains one of the highest RTP’s (especially overall) for Instants in the entire country.

Drawing ticket sales have also increased to $652,762,731, which represents an increase of 23.05%, so South Carolina is one of the few states in which Drawing Ticket sales increases are outpacing that of Instant Tickets, though it is worth noting that Scratchers remain significantly more popular in this state overall. Drawing ticket prizes were $311,977,334, which results in a RTP of 47.79% (again!) on those, so people play these games despite them being awful. It also reflects a tendency to play the worst games, such as Powerball and Mega Millions.

In total, South Carolina residents spent $2,415,772,179 on lottery games, of which they lost $822,102,369 and had an overall RTP of 65.97%. The population of the state is about 5.092M, so this would reflect a loss, per resident, of about $161.45. Comparing the two Fiscal Years, 2019 and 2021, the gain in loss per resident in 2021 is about 24.297%, which makes South Carolina one of the biggest gainers in the country.

“I know it cheats, but it’s the only game in town.”

South Dakota

As we mentioned before, the residents of South Dakota are not left wanting when it comes to having different gambling options at their disposal. In addition to probably being a short drive from one Tribal Casino, or another, there’s also the historic city of Deadwood, which is where the state’s Commercial Casino gambling takes place in one of the coolest atmospheres that you’ll ever see.

For now, our concern is their lottery, and more specifically, the 2021 Annual Lottery report which can be found here. Before we get into that, let’s recall some information from our previous study that led us to the conclusion that the state has one of the lowest losses to the lottery in the country, on a per resident basis:

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player
Instant Tickets 32,237,932  21,321,309  66.14%
Drawing Games 30,708,432  16,383,207 53.35%

 

In any event, residents lost a total of $25,241,848 to the lottery for that Fiscal Year, which based on an estimated population of 884,659, yields an average loss per resident of $28.53. It looks like North Dakota's standing as the least average loss per resident of states with a lottery is still safe, for now, but we'll have to see if Wyoming has something to say about it.

The first thing to look at is Instant Tickets, for which sales for FY21 were $47,477,806, an increase of 47.273%, which is well in excess of national trends! The prizes off of these Instant Ticket sales would total $33,291,957, which reflects an overall Return to Player of 70.121%. We suspect, based on national trends, that this significant increase in RTP is linked to a higher proportion of the tickets being purchased at higher denominations than before.

Drawing Ticket sales, however, slumped. The state only had $26,136,629 in Drawing Ticket sales, which is a 17.371% sales decline that basically follows the national trend, though this decline is probably steeper than most. Prizes paid out totaled $13,312,880, which is a decrease to 50.936%, but one less jackpot or top jackpot can make all the difference in a sample size this small, so we would hesitate to draw any conclusions.

In total, residents and visitors to South Dakota spent $73,614,435 on Lottery Tickets and were paid out a total of $46,604,837 in prizes, reflecting overall return to player of 63.309% and a total net loss to lottery players of $27,009,598. The population of the state is 879,336, so the loss per resident amounts to about $30.72, an increase of 7.676% loss per resident.

As we can see, despite being a small sample size, South Dakota followed the general national trend when it came to lottery ticket preferences, in fact, they did so to an extent greater than the rest of the country.

Tennessee

Interestingly, the Annual Lottery Report for the State of Tennessee barely contains anything, so I have found that it is best to turn to the Annual Auditor’s Report, which we have for the 2021 Fiscal year here. Before we get into that, let’s recall some of the stuff that we discovered from Fiscal year 2019:

The starting bit of this lottery report is phrased in a rather unusual way, so the first thing we are going to do is grab the revenues from sales:

Instant: 1,448,878,000

Drawing: 363,726,000

Total: 1,812,604,000

(1,448,878,000+363,726,000 )-( 979,441,528+185,863,986) = 647,298,486, so based on an estimated population of 6.829M for the year 2019, we see an expected loss of $94.79/resident.

I also remember the formatting of their lottery report being highly unusual, so let’s hope that this isn’t too difficult to figure out.

Instant and drawing ticket sales are easy enough to find, and those were $1,736,563,000 and $347,310,000, respectively. Below this, they have a line item for tickets redeemed as prizes, which I am ignoring because I only care about money in and money out; prize tickets do not change the net outcome (loss) for players of the lottery and free tickets are worth less than their face value anyway.

With that, I get a total of $2,083,873,000 in sales with marked declines in Drawing Ticket sales and fains in Instant Ticket sales comparing FY19 to FY21. As we have already established, this is pretty much in line with national trends. They have gross prize expense listed as 1.253B later on in the report, which represents an average return to player of 60.128%, which is a slight upward move due to the proportion of Instant Tickets sold as compared to drawing ones.

Of course, the poor overall return compared to other state lotteries would suggest that the RTP of Tennessee Instant Tickets is probably not very good compared to those of other lotteries. Players would ultimately lose a total of $830,873,000 to the Tennessee Lottery, so based on the state’s population of 6.772M, this reflects losses of $122.69 per resident. The percentage increase in loss per resident, comparing FY19 to FY21, is about 29.433%.

Once again, this report does not separate prize allocations by ticket type, so we don’t know exactly where the returns of Instant Tickets are compared to drawing tickets.

Texas

Texas’ Lottery puts out its annual report and, if it looks anything like it did in FY19, then the loss per resident is going to be way higher than it should be for a state who so severely prohibits other forms of gambling that they’ve even tried to shut down isolated Native American casinos that have only a mere handful of Class II machines and basically sit in the middle of nowhere.

I also recall Texas either releasing or floating the idea of an Instant Ticket at the $100 price point. If people will buy it, why not, I guess. In any event, we have here the Auditor’s Report for the Texas Lottery ended Fiscal Year August, 2021, so we’re going to dive into that. Before we do, however, let’s recall some of our relevant findings from the 2019 Fiscal year:

It appears that Instant 'Scratch' Tickets' sales were 4.8456B and Drawing Ticket sales came out to about 1.4059B. This results in total sales of 6.2515B for the Texas Lottery. Of course, Texas is massively populated, so this might not be a complete disaster on a loss/resident basis.

In the opening letter, I was able to find that Texans would collect 4.132B in prizes for the year; it's not really mentioned in the other sections where you might expect to see that information. All of those sections are sales, sales, sales. Let's get it straight: Direct donations to the entities in question that the Texas Lottery supposedly helps would be more effective than buying their stupid tickets, and you're also just sales to them. They don't even consider you players; they consider you cattle.

Anyway, what we end up with is a total return to player of roughly 66.10%, which is undoubtedly bolstered by the fact that over 75% of the sales are on higher returning (compared to drawings) instant tickets. According to the Lottery Report, the $10 price point for scratch off tickets is apparently doing pretty well. Not that lottery players generally care, but your expected loss on those is probably somewhere in the range of $2.50-$3.50.

Players would lose 2.1195B to the Texas Lottery for Fiscal Year 2019, so based on an estimated population of 29M, we arrive at an average loss per resident of $73.09. It wasn't quite the bloodbath I thought that it would be; these numbers are fairly middle of the road.

What's more fun than losing a huge chunk of money on a $50 Instant Ticket? The Lottery hopes losing a huge chunk of money on a $100 Instant Ticket, from the report:

We are quickly able to find that total Lottery sales were $8,107,203,394.00 against total prizes of $5,418,271,881.68, thereby reflecting a loss of $2,688,931,513 for all Texas Lottery players, combined. As a result, we find that the overall RTP for the Texas State Lottery was 66.833% for FY21. That represents a very slight increase that is most likely due to a move away from Drawing Tickets and towards Instant Tickets that would follow the general trend in the rest of the country.

In terms of loss per resident, the population of Texas is about 28.64M, so we arrive at a loss of about $93.89, per resident. This would reflect, comparing FY19 to FY21, a gain of 28.458% in loss per resident, which is definitely on the high end when compared to the rest of the country.

It would appear that Texas is another state that treats prizes as a single line item, so unfortunately, we have no way of knowing the percentage returns for the different types of lottery games for the purpose of comparison to other states.

Utah

Nope.

Vermont

That brings us to the Green Mountain State, which is one that seems mostly uninterested in gambling.

Unfortunately, we’re not really going to be able to get into them as their report for 2020 is not available yet; we couldn’t imagine a year worse than FY20 for comparative purposes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns.

For that reason, Vermont is just going to have to join states such as California and Delaware on the backburner as we await more up to date information. As before, I would very much appreciate a PM on WizardofVegas to Mission146 should this report happen to come out and I have not yet updated the section for Vermont.

Virginia

Virginia is another state for whom the most recent available report is FY20, which ended in June of 2020 and contains the months that we specifically do not want.

As with Vermont, should anyone happen to notice this report come out, please shoot me a PM at Mission146 at WizardofVegas Forum as I would like to update these states as soon as possible, but I can already tell you that I will totally forget that I wanted to do so about a month after this is published.

Unfortunately, I also don’t know when to expect these reports to come out. For instance, California is about three years behind on publishing their Lottery reports, with the most recent one available being the one I used for our comprehensive analysis TWO YEARS AGO which is about one year after that one was published.

What are these auditors so busy with? Sheesh!

Washington

Finally, a state Lottery that actually has its Annual Report out for Fiscal Year 2021, and available to the public; it can be found here. Our findings from last time around would indicate that Washington’s residents are generally uninterested in playing the lottery; while Las Vegas it is not, we suspect the reason to be the fact that the state, overall, is not wanting for a wide variety of gambling options for those inclined.

So, we will see how this comparison goes, but first, let’s look at some of our relevant findings from our last study:

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player
Instant, "Scratch" Tickets 523.8M 355.5M 67.87%
Drawing Tickets 279.4M 134.8M 48.25%

 

In total, players would lose 312.9M to the Washington State Lottery for FY2019, which based on an estimated population of 7.615M, reflects a loss of $41.09/resident. It seems that Washingtonians are mostly uninterested in playing the lottery, although instant ticket sales seem to be going up every year, yes, even in 2020!

Short and sweet, so let’s hope all of this is so easy to find and break down this time around.

It is short and sweet, once again! Instant Tickets, which they like to call, “Scratch,” in the report, sold a total of 701.2M worth of tickets for FY21, which is an increase 33.868% over FY19, so that’s got to be close to one of the biggest increases for this lottery type in the entire country. In the meantime, they returned 476.8M in prizes for total RTP percentage of 67.998%, which is slightly higher than in our previous study.

If the increase could be attributed to anything, even though it is really just statistically meaningless, then we would suggest it is the tendency of player to buy higher denominations of Scratchers, which tend to have a slightly better return to player than do the cheap ones.

In the meantime, Drawing tickets had total sales of about 249.5M, which reflects a substantial decline of about 11.984% for the 2021 Fiscal Year as compared to 2019. Obviously, the increase in Instant Ticket sales will be more than enough to carry the day in loss per resident terms, and then some. Drawing tickets returned 127.3M in prizes, which is 51.022% and better than last time around. There are two factors at play in that: The first is the fact that Powerball and Mega Millions (the worst returning games) seem to have the biggest declines, the second factor could be just an extra big jackpot or two going out compared to the previous time.

Residents would lose a total of $346,600,000, or so, so with a population of 7.512M, the losses, per resident, come out to about $46.14. Comparing the two Fiscal Years, Washington residents and guest lottery players lost 12.29% more money in the most recent Fiscal Year as a result of increased purchases of scratchers, so despite the decline in Drawing Ticket spend. Overall return to player increased to about 63.543%, also owing to the sales of Instant Tickets in proportion to those of Drawing games.

West Virginia

West Virginia’s Governor, ladies and gentlemen:

 

He described this as an, “Audio Glitch,” and would later go on to lie to West Virginia by claiming that he’s never used that word in his life, but he actually wasn’t using the ‘F’ word. As you can see, he’s reading from that piece of paper and stumbled over his words and briefly stuttered, “I encourage all businesses that are allowed to open to do so, only, if they fa–can follow the guidelines to keep West Virginia safe.” He started to say, ‘Follow,” realized he missed a word, and because he pronounces, ‘Can,’ with a soft ‘a’ given the accent in that part of the state, it sounded like, “...like, that I had said a bad word.”

It was still hilarious.

One thing that might not be hilarious, but is convenient, is that if you live in a town with more than, say, twenty people, in the State of West Virginia, then you probably live in a place that has a bar with video lottery terminals, or alternatively, a parlor with video lottery terminals. Because of those, which are run through the State Lottery anyway (who also oversees the casinos as there is no separate Division of Gaming), traditional lottery spend per resident isn’t as high as in many other states.

Anyway, we have the report for the West Virginia Lottery’s 2021 Fiscal Year available to us here, but first let us take a second to recall what we are comparing this new information to:

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player
Instant Tickets 115,596,000 77,337,000 66.90%
Drawing Tickets 84,501,000 41,909,000 49.60%

 

In total, West Virginians and visitors lost $80,851,000 to the traditional forms of the West Virginia lottery which, based on an estimated population of 1.792M, results in a loss per resident of $45.12. We're pretty surprised that it's that high.

Surprised, yeah, I stand by that. I simply don’t see why people would play traditional lottery when you have VLT’s that also serve as ever expanding slots suites on one machine. It used to be you’d go into a parlor and all machines had the same twelve games, but now, you might have as many as fifty different titles available to you on a grand total of five or seven machines.

Traditional Instant Ticket sales were $173,142,000, which is a tremendous increase of 49.782% when you compare FY 19 to FY21; I have absolutely no idea what might have led to that. Granted, the sales follow the general trend that we have observed across the country, but the percentage increase blows most other states out of the water. Prizes on Instant Tickets were $117,318,000, thereby resulting in a RTP percentage of 67.758% on those. It’s not a huge increase, so could be apropos of nothing, but we would suspect that, if it has to do with anything, it has to do with a slow migration towards higher denomination, and better returning, instant tickets.

Drawing Ticket sales were $76,106,000 for FY21, which reflects an 11.031% decline when compared to FY19, which is basically the trend that we have observed nationally. Drawing Ticket prizes would total $37,985,000, thereby making the return percentage 49.911%. The slight increase in RTP might just be variance, or it could be people getting away from Mega Millions and Powerball, which are the worst returning games, a little bit.

Total sales were $249,248,000 against a total of $155,303,000 in prizes paid out for a total return to player of 62.309%, if you’ve read the other states at all, then you already know that the overall RTP increase is due to a greater proportion of the sales dollars being on Instant Tickets than before. In total, West Virginia Lottery players would lose $93,945,000 to the traditional lottery games, thereby reflecting a loss per resident of about $51.99 based on their population of about 1.807M. The increase in loss per resident is 15.226%, which is pretty middle of the pack compared to the other states.

Wisconsin

Here we have the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year Budget Report for the Wisconsin Lottery, which is going to enable us to compare their performance to our findings from 2019. As with the other states, let us first highlight our key points from the previous comprehensive report:

Game Type Sales Prizes Return to Player
Instant Tickets 451.3M 300.5M 66.59%
Drawing Tickets 261.8M 131.4M 50.19%

 

The first thing that we note is 451.3M in Instant Ticket Sales took place and another 261.8M in Drawing, 'Lotto,' Games for a total of 713.1M. The section after that indicates that a total of 431.9M in prizes were paid out, thereby making the return to player 60.57% overall.

Wisconsinites(?) would lose a total of 281.2M to traditional forms of lottery for 2019, so based on an estimated population of 5.822M for the year, we put the lottery losses at about $48.30/resident. It seems that the residents would rather have a combination pot luck/meat raffle and sample each other's Hot Dish than play the lottery, good on them!

The first thing that we find is that Instant Tickets, “Scratch-Offs,” sold a total of 635.2M, which includes a negligible amount of Pull Tab sales. That would reflect gains, comparing FY21 to FY 19, of 40.749%. Instant ticket prizes would total 433.7M, thereby reflecting a return to player percentage of about 68.278%. While not a huge increase, we tend to think it is slightly statistically meaningful and most likely reflects a greater proportion of sales going to high denomination tickets, which tend to have better RTP.

In the meantime, Drawing Ticket sales for 20-21 would total 259.3M, which reflects a decline in sales of about 0.964% when compared to the FY19 results. Drawing games returned 126M to players, which reflects a RTP percentage of about 48.592%. Statistically, this could be the difference of a few second top jackpots less compared to the previous cycle we looked at or even one big jackpot less.

Players would buy a total of 894.5M in tickets from the lottery for total returns of 559.7M, thereby representing a loss to players of roughly 334.8M, with overall RTP percentage of 62.571%, which is higher than last time because of the increased proportion of Instant Ticket sales as compared to Drawing tickets. The population of the state is about 5.807M, so the loss to the lottery, per resident, was about $57.65. Overall, the lottery gained 19.358% more money, per resident, in FY 20-21 than in FY19.

Wyoming

Unfortunately, the 2021 Annual Report for the Wyoming Lottery is not available yet, so as with a few other states, we will try to update this page when that information is made available. If you happen to know it is up and this page is not yet updated, please PM Mission146 at WizardofVegas.

State Instant Ticket Sales Instant Ticket Return Percentage Drawing Ticket Sales Drawing Ticket Return Percentage Loss Per Resident Loss Per Resident % Increase
Alabama N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Alaska N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Arizona 2019: 750.3M Unknown  2019: 316.4M Unknown 2019: $50.85 26.53%
  Current: 1.1098B   Current: 3.296M   Current: $64.34  
Arkansas 2019: 407.8M 2019: 72.02% 2019: 107.7M 2019: 52.23% 2019: $54.88 16.02%
  Current: 529.4M Current: 72.41% Current: 102.6M Current: 55.389% Current: $63.67  
California 2019: 5.1708B Unknown 2019: 1.5264B Unknown 2019: $67.64 Unknown
  Current: Unknown   Current: Unknown   Current: Unknown  
Colorado 2019: 443.4M 2019: 67.49% 2019: 236.4M 2019: 49.79% 2019: $45.64 18.62%
  Current: 573M Current: Unknown Current: 223M Current: Unknown Current: $54.14  
Connecticut 2019: 736.4M 2019: 70.138% 2019: 504.1M 2019: 56.28% 2019: $131.10 21.33%
  Current: 837.7M Current: 70.419% Current: 660.1M Current: 51.487% Current: $159.06  
Delaware 2019: 79.81M 2019: 66.55% 2019: 116.51M 2019: 50.45% 2019: $86.70 Unknown
  Current: Current Current: Current Current:  
Florida: 2019: 4.9378B 2019: 73.51% 2019: 2.2135B 2019: 49.54% 2019: $116.98 18.48%
  Current: 6.8279B Current: 73.91% Current: 2.2484B Current: 51.24% Current: $138.60  
Georgia:  2019: 3.219B Unknown 2019: 1.557B Unknown 2019: $148.64 23.38%
  2020: 3.428B   2020: 1.546B   2020: $183.39  
Hawaii: N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Idaho: 2019: 219.1M Unknown 2019: 68.8M Unknown 2019: $53.34 27.33%
  Current: 308.1M   Current: 63.93M   Current: $67.92  
Illinois: Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown 2019: $84.25 4.36%
          Current: $87.92  
Indiana: 2019: 974.9M 2019: 68.90% 2019: 372.9M 2019: 50.51% 2019: $72.45 22.40%
  Current: 1.3845B Current: 69.865% Current: 353.3M Current: 49.992% Current: $88.68  
Iowa: 2019: 261.52M Current: 66.619% 2019: 129.38M 2019: 51.65% 2019: $47.66 9.06%
  Current: 329.71M (Includes Pull Tabs) Current: 122.9M Current: 56.333% Current: $51.98  
  (Includes Pull Tabs)          
Kansas: Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown 2019: $42.09 2.61%
          Current: $43.19  
Kentucky: 2019: 774.33M 2019: 70.981% 2019: 429.12M 2019: 58.64% 2019: $68.08 70.81%
  Current: 1.08032B Current: 72.409% Current: 506.01M Current: 56.362% Current: $116.29   
Louisiana: 2019: 225.57M 2019: 60.08% 2019: 298.39M 2019: 50.20% 2019: $51.33 13.21%
  Current: 333.77M Current: 62.542% Current: 291.18M Current: 49.833%  Current:  
          $58.11  
Maine:  2019: 231.23M 2019: 70.45% 2019: 68.22M 2019: 51.56% 2019: $75.54 19.91%
  Current: 328.5M (Includes Fast Play) Current: 72.037% Current: 62.24M Current: 52.424% Current: $90.58  
Maryland: N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019: $138.11 16.08%
          Current: $160.32  
Massachusetts: 2019: 3.674B Unknown Current: 1.769B Unknown 2019: $218.36 1%
  Current: 4.03B       Current: $220.55  
Michigan: 2019: 1.6555B 2019: 73.69% 2019: 751.3M 2019: 52.23% 2019: $153.47 24.85%
  Current: 2.4486B Current: 74.467% Current: 1.5951B Current: 57.576% Current: $191.60  
Minnesota: 2019: 435.27M 2019: 67.11% 2019: 201.54M 2019: 51.35% 2019: $42.77 21.07%
  Current: 615.57M Current: 67.669% Current: 97.122M Current: 51.641% Current: $51.78  
Mississippi Current: 340.27M Unknown Current: 92.596M Unknown $60.90 N/A
Missouri: 2019: 1.0285B 2019: 74.8065% 2019: 437.53M 2019: 56.16% 2019: $73.48 21.22%
  Current: 1.3686B Current: 74.009% Current: 442.85M Current: 57.155% Current: $89.07  
Montana: 2019: 18.531M 2019: 59.96% 2019: 41.723M 2019: 56.04% 2019: $24.10 7.80%
  Current: 28.496M Current: 66.11% Current: 42.241M Current: 57.542% Current: $25.98  
Nebraska: Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown 2019: $40.76 9.42%
          Current: $44.60   
Nevada: N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
New Hampshire: 2019: 250.48M 2019: 68.20% 2019: 129.38M 2019: 54.167% 2019: $102.24 15.87%
  Current: 320.34M Current: 69.232% Current: 151.09M Current: 59% Current: $118.46  
New Jersey Irrelevant Unknown Irrelevant Unknown 2019: $157.06 3.12%
          Current: $161.96  
New Mexico: 2019: 74.941M 2019: 55.18% 2019: 68.69M 2019: 51.96% 2019: $31.76 5.29%
  Current: 95.072M Current: 55.962% Current: 59.413M Current: 53.127% Current: $33.44  
New York: 2019: 4.2267B 2019: 67.26% 2019: 3.9814B 2019: 52.19% 2019: $169.15 -0.75%
  Current: 4.518B Current: 68.415% Current: 3.66B Current: Current:  
        49.48% $167.89   
North Carolina: Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown 2019: $96.70 33.66%
          Current: $129.25  
North Dakota: N/A N/A 2019: 35.353M 2019: 51.6% 2019: $22.46 -21.08%
      Current: 30.383M Current: 53.571% Current: $18.55  
Ohio: 2019: 1.663B 2019: 69.6% 2019: 1.698B 2019: 57.8% 2019: $104.44 22.03%
  Current: 2.316B Current: 72.26% Current: 2.014B Current: 58% Current: $127.45  
Oklahoma: 2019: 135.97M 2019: 68.55% 2019: 105.73M 2019: 50.17% 2019: $25.52 18.30%
  Current: 256.04M Current: 70.879% Current: 90.71M Current: Current: $30.19  
        50.76%    
Oregon: Irrelevant Unknown Irrelevant Unknown 2019: $33.43 23.24%
          Current: $41.20  
Pennsylvania: Irrelevant Unknown Irrelevant Unknown 2019: $123.14 4.86%
          Current: $129.13  
Rhode Island: 2019: 102.91M 2019: 69.04% 2019: 160.36M 2019: 58.75% 2019: $95.91 3.45%
  Current: 134.63M Current: 69.467% Current: 154.16M Current: 58.569% Current:  
          $99.22  
South Carolina: 2019: 1.4504B 2019: 72.99% 2019: 530.5M 2019: 47.79% 2019: $129.89 24.30%
  Current: 1.763B Current: 72.7% Current: 652.76M Current: 47.79% Current: $161.45  
South Dakota: 2019: 32.38M 2019: 66.14% 2019: 30.708M 2019: 53.35% 2019: $28.53 7.68%
  Current: 47.478M Current: 70.121% Current: 26.137M Current: 50.936% Current: $30.72  
Tennessee: Irrelevant Unknown Irrelevant Unknown 2019: $94.79 29.43%
          Current: $122.69  
Texas: Irrelevant Unknown Irrelevant Unknown 2019: $73.09 28.46%
          Current: $93.89  
Utah: N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Vermont: No Data No Data No Data No Data No Data No Data
Virginia: No Data No Data No Data No Data No Data No Data
Washington: 2019: 523.8M 2019: 67.87% 2019: 279.4M 2019: 48.25% 2019: $41.09 12.29%
  Current: 701.2M Current:  Current: Current: 51.022% Current: $46.14  
    68.00% 249.5M      
West Virginia: 2019: 115.6M 2019: 66.90% 2019: 84.501M 2019: 49.6% 2019: $45.12 15.23%
  Current: 173.14M Current: 67.758% Current: 76.106M Current: 49.991% Current:  
          $51.99  
Wisconsin: 2019: 451.3M 2019: 66.59% 2019: 261.8M 2019: 50.19% 2019: $48.30 19.36%
  Current: 635.2M Current: 68.278% Current: 259.3M Current: 48.592% Current: $57.65  
Wyoming No Data No Data No Data No Data No Data No Data

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

I did an article over on WizardofVegas in the interim of these FY19 and FY21 findings in which I made the following highlights, in part:

The main reasons for the decline are a lack of Mega Millions and PowerBall ticket sales compared to previous years. GIven that some folks can be presumed to have a, “Lottery budget,” my assumption is that some people who would normally buy Powerball or Mega Millions tickets when the jackpot amounts are high enough for their liking instead spent some of that money on Instant Tickets.

And:

Drawing Ticket Sales Declined Substantially:

Drawing ticket sales did not fare as well during the Covid-19 pandemic, which leaves us with kind of a chicken and the egg question.

When it comes to Drawing Ticket sales numbers when comparing the 2020 Fiscal Year for various state lotteries to that of 2019, we see that this game type went down across the board. In-state lottery games generally improved slightly, or stayed relatively flat.

The revenue loss leaders for the state lotteries, Universally, were Mega Millions and Powerball games, in fact, one state in particular only sold approximately one-third of the Mega Millions tickets that they had the year prior.

Also:

Out of panic, the PowerBall would announce a reduction to the base (and PowerBall lottery funded) jackpot to twenty million dollars.

On top of that, PowerBall would announce that the minimum increases to the jackpots would go from ten million dollars to a mere two million dollars, a decrease of 80% to the guaranteed additional amounts for drawings during which the Grand Prize is not hit.

Unsurprisingly, the PowerBall managed to seriously shoot itself in the foot with this decision, as many players would respond by simply not playing the games. For the jackpot to not only start at twenty million (the base had been forty million, so this was a 50% decrease) but also not increase by the guaranteed ten million resulted in lower jackpots, for many consecutive drawings, than Powerball players had seen in years.

I would go on to expand on the last point with:

Sadly, PowerBall ripped off the very players that it needs to keep playing in order for the game to work in the first place---the people who are willing to buy tickets when the jackpots are extremely low. When it went from forty million to twenty million dollars to start, with paltry guaranteed increases, some of the habitual early players simply said, “This is too much.”

Furthermore, Mega Millions would also reduce the base amount of its jackpot; more than that, they would eventually announce that they were offering no minimum increase to the jackpot during weeks for which the jackpot was not hit the previous drawing.

As we saw across the country, most states saw an increase in the sale of Instant Tickets and a decline in the sales of Drawing Tickets. Even in the cases where drawing ticket sales increased, scratchers sales increased at a greater rate, comparing FY19 to FY21.

One of the reasons for this, naturally, is that more instant tickets are being sold at higher denominations, and those higher denomination ticket sales are increasing in proportion compared to the cheapest instant tickets. The only real example we have, unfortunately, is that of Maine who provides probably THE lottery report that has the most information that would actually be meaningful to players, so kudos to them.

Either way, all signs point to this being the case in the vast majority of states. I say that because most states had an increase in return-to-player on their instant games; I tend to think it’s not because they made the $1 tickets return better, but rather, because a greater proportion of tickets sold were at higher denominations (than FY19) and the higher priced tickets fundamentally have slightly to somewhat better RTP’s.

You can also see it in action, in states with lottery sales machines, just by looking at the instant ticket machines. At a glance, you’ll sometimes see one, or even zero, $1 tickets that can be purchased directly from the machine. At the same time, there are increasing options if you want to buy a $3, $5 or even $10+ instant ticket without going to the counter.

In many states, drawing ticket return to player increased slightly, which I would attribute to declining sales of both Powerball and Mega Millions ticket sales, as those games have the worst RTP. With that, if an increasing proportion of sales is games that are not those two, you will generally see drawing ticket sales increase.

In states for which we have sufficient data, only two states saw a decline (comparing FY19 to FY21) in loss per resident—New York and North Dakota. New York’s loss per resident decline was negligible, but is directly due to revenue increases to Instant Tickets (which have better returns) being roughly equal to the decline in Drawing Ticket sales. In the case of North Dakota, they ONLY have Drawing Tickets, which sales are declining nationally (and have been), so that explains the reason for their loss per resident decline on its own.

Why Are Drawing Ticket Sales Declining?

There had been a slight decline in Drawing sales even prior to this study, but some of that could have been just that sales are tied to high jackpots; it’s just that simple. The record Powerball jackpot was hit back in 2016 and the same for Mega Millions was 2018, so it has been awhile since peak jackpot frenzy.

For that reason, we note that Mega Millions and Powerball are the drawing games that have slumped the most, when comparing FY19 to FY21. We might take a more detailed look at it later, but in those states that had declining drawing ticket sales overall, when sales of specific ticket information was available, I made it a point to glance and those are the ticket types leading the decline.

I think the change in the rules is also largely to blame.

The first thing about the change in rules (Powerball reducing its base jackpot, Mega Millions doing the same and ALSO announcing there would be no fixed jackpot increases) is that it immediately makes the games worse, which some players recognize is terrible for them. Perhaps even some of the early players who would just habitually buy tickets, regardless of the jackpot amount, said something like, “Fine, I’ll only buy if the jackpot gets above 40M from now on.”

The other problem with the rule changes is that they are a terrible optic. One has to understand that the most common experience people are going to have with these games, by far, is just almost constant losing. For both games, players have a winning ticket barely over 4% of the time. When they do, most of them will either double their purchase (assuming no add-ons), or in the case of Mega Millions, about half of the time that you do win, you only get your money back.

The biggest problem with both rule changes is that it causes jackpots to grow more slowly.

I have a theory as to the different types of lottery players that there are:

1.) Apathetic Habitual Players:

-Apathetic Habitual Players buy Mega Millions and/or Powerball tickets weekly, or whenever they happen to stop at a common place they visit that sells them, such as a gas station or a grocery store. Buying these tickets is automatic for them, so automatic, in fact, that the probably have a little sheet that can be run through the scanner to quickly choose their numbers, which are always the same.

If Powerball and Mega Millions both reduced their base jackpots to $1,000,000, as opposed to $20,000,000, these people would be unlikely to notice, and probably wouldn’t even care if they did notice the change.

The two games absolutely RELY on these apathetic habitual players, because if they didn’t have these types of players, then the jackpots would never increase because nobody would be playing.

2.) Less Apathetic Habitual (or Formerly Habitual) Players:

-These people were once solidly in the first category, but, quite frankly, thought the reduction to the base jackpot was BS. Even if they didn’t notice the news reports, of which there were many, they almost certainly noticed the jackpot advertised at 20M on the sign or placard, at some point. I imagine the conversation went like this:

Customer: How is the jackpot at 20M?

Clerk: Oh, someone hit it on the last drawing.

Customer: Yeah, but it should be 40M, then.

Clerk: No, 20M is the new starting jackpot. It’s been that way for a few months.

Customer: Are you $^&^*^ kidding!?

Honestly, it’s as if Powerball and Mega Millions didn’t already have a low-enough RTP, they decided to double down on their hold in order to grab more money before eventually paying out a big jackpot, that is, when the jackpot actually reaches a substantial point.

I should imagine that a great many of these people simply decided to transition their lottery spend over to Instant Tickets, or alternatively, to only play the MM and PB when the jackpot levels are at least at their old starting point. It’s possible that some of them stopped playing altogether or became my third general category of lottery player.

3.) Trigger Players:

I think that Trigger Players are probably the most common type of Mega Millions and Powerball player; how I would define, “Trigger Players,” is that the jackpot hits some specific or not as specific point, then they are triggered to play.

I don’t quite understand why some people play when they do given how remote the possibility of hitting the top prize is; what is especially bizarre to me is the thinking of, “Oh, you know, 96M pre-tax is peanuts, but now that it is 102M pre-tax…I can DO something with that!”

Either way, if people are trigger players at all, then trigger players are often going to have different triggers from each other. I would imagine a nice round jackpot number, such as 100M+, would be a very common trigger point for many people. Some might have a trigger point higher or lower than that, but I think most lottery players look at the jackpots of these two games and then make their decision on whether or not to bite.

Just from being in lines, one thing that I have noticed about Instant Ticket players is that they are frequently trigger players of drawing games. It’s not uncommon to hear something along the lines of, “Oh, the Powerball is at 50M? I guess you’d better give me one of those, also.”

…and then take approximately eight years to decide on their numbers when I just want to pay for my gas.

Another type of trigger player is groups of people who buy tickets for, “Office Pools,” or what have you, where they usually don’t do so at the base jackpot amounts.

As A Result…

If the jackpots start lower, then fewer people will play the early jackpot amounts. If fewer people are playing the early jackpot amounts, then the jackpots will increase more slowly than they did before, which will mean that it takes longer for the jackpots to reach the trigger points for different trigger players.

Ultimately, these leads to lower revenues overall; quite frankly, I thought that it would be worse for Powerball and Mega Millions, as a result of these decisions, than it actually is. It’s still pretty bad, though, but it would be hard to imagine that it gets much worse than this as long as they don’t change the rules again.

Any given year will be subject to some level of variance, which is mostly a question of how often do the jackpots reach these certain trigger points. For that reason, people winning early (in the jackpot cycle) is generally going to be a huge negative for these types of games. If there are a few huge jackpots, or if the jackpots ever somehow reach record numbers again, then you will almost certainly see gains in these games compared to FY21 and maybe even better than other Fiscal Years—perhaps even record sales years for one of the games.

The problem, of course, is that the rules changes have made it more difficult for that to actually happen. Essentially, by starting the jackpots lower (there are typically two drawings from base before the third tends to hit the old base amount) they would have to have more tickets NOT win in order to ever hit the record high jackpot figures again.

Instant Tickets

In the meantime, for those states with increased sales in both, we see that the sales of Instant Tickets have accelerated at a faster rate than those of drawing tickets.

When it comes to the states for which we have FY21 or FY2 data, in fact, Instant Ticket sales have declined in precisely zero of them. Even in New York, the only state that sells both ticket types for which there was an overall decline in loss per resident, would see Instant Ticket sales increase by about the same rate that drawing ticket sales fell.

In the meantime, we find that drawing ticket revenues fell in eighteen states of those for which we have either FY21 or FY22 data. Some states where drawing tickets have always been the sales leader are seeing the proportion of Instant Ticket sales, in comparison, start to catch up.

Instant tickets have probably benefited slightly from the change in Mega Millions and Powerball rules as, I would assume, a non-zero percentage of disenfranchised former habitual PB and MM players have started purchasing Instant Tickets instead. The higher denomination instant ticket sales percentage seems to be increasing in proportion to the cheapest ticket types as some titles of the latter are even being phased out.

At least superficially, the higher denomination Instant Tickets have more going on and more, “Ways to win,” even though, fundamentally, you just either win or lose. As we see with some of the people who buy from the machines and just immediately scan the tickets, you don’t even really need to, “Play the game,” as it won’t change the result.

Another notable point about the higher denomination Instant Tickets is that they have better returns to player, as a percentage. Maine provides a good example of this and we would imagine most portfolios of Instant Ticket denominations, while they may not necessarily payout as much of a percentage of those of Maine do, would also increase in RTP the greater the cost of the ticket is.

Because of that, players are generally more likely to get something back, which is going to encourage them to play more. I don’t see there being a reversal in the trend of Instant Tickets always gaining in revenue, absent some sort of broad spectrum economic downturn, and I also imagine the seemingly increasing RTP will continue as people continue to slowly gravitate towards tickets at the increased price points.

Overall, the majority of the states for which we have data saw a gain in loss per resident of 20% +/-10%, which seems really high, but do recall that this is over a two or three year timespan, depending on the report in question. I’d hesitate to offer a prediction of whether or not loss per resident will continue to increase at the same rate. I also think some of this might have had to do with different stimulus packages from the Federal Government that went to individuals that represented new disposable income for them.

MY ISSUES WITH THE LOTTERY

It’s no secret I have a less favorable view of state lotteries than many people, including Wizard, but some people probably wonder why. That’s especially possible given that I also tend to agree that lottery players, absent huge winners, are mostly just paying a, “Tax on the willing.”

So, that being the case, why do I have such a problem with it?

1.) The Lottery IS A Monopoly

-It would perhaps be bad enough just for the lottery to be a monopoly at all, but it’s made worse when you add to that state lotteries are a Government owned and controlled monopoly.

It’s not as though someone in a particular state could set up a competing lottery; after all, all you would need are some tickets and some ball hoppers–boom, lottery! The problem is that, if they tried, they would probably find themselves in some very negative legal circumstances in extremely short order.

State Governments also have a monopoly on all of gambling, for the most part, so I thought it was particularly ironic that the article linked above accused Nevada casinos of, “Wanting to keep their monopoly,” which they don’t even have, by the way. How is it a monopoly when you have so many casinos and casino companies? Hell, casinos (as a whole) don’t even have a monopoly on gambling in the State of Nevada as bars and other types of stores can also be licensed to have machines.

The states, other than those instances where it is put to public vote, decide what sort of gambling is or is not allowed. Will there or will there not be Commercial Casinos? Some laws are so draconian that even certain forms of social gambling would, technically, be illegal in a few states. To tighter or looser extents, states even Legislate what Charitable Gaming is or is not allowed and how same is to be conducted.

In other words, the state has the monopoly on all of gambling, at least, as far as what is or isn’t legal. They especially have a lottery on monopolies as there is no process, at least not one that I am aware of, by which an individual or business entity could apply to conduct its own lottery.

The notion that casinos are afraid of having competition from a state lottery, at least to the extent implied that it would be meaningful competition, is also kind of laughable. I could see where casinos in States, such as Ohio, would perhaps be concerned about the Buckeye State having a video lottery, but I don’t think traditional lottery has Nevada casinos trembling in fear; in fact, I’d imagine a great number of them would also be lottery ticket retailers, as we see of casinos in some other states.

It’s the lottery that is afraid of competition. That much is evident as the Pennsylvania Lottery bemoans the existence of the unregulated PA Skill Games as a threat to their revenues, which, to be fair, is probably a little bit true. Even if it were completely true, however, maybe just improve your games to have better than a 67% RTP and you wouldn’t lose potential customers to unregulated devices.

Also, if Pennsylvania would ever get around to having Limited Video Lottery the way one of their bordering states, West Virginia, has it set up, then the PA Games of Skill would never have gained a foothold in the state anyway. If a bar, restaurant or fraternal organization wanted to have machines that are functionally the same as those in a casino, then they could…which would also be good for their bottom lines. There are any number of establishments in the State of West Virginia that are ONLY slot parlors, so just follow that model. Of course, this is something that I keep saying.

It would also help the state lottery out by attracting some revenues from people who live in small towns that are otherwise uninterested in the lottery.

In terms of loss per resident, the West Virginia State Lottery more than doubles Pennsylvania’s total loss per resident on revenues derived from Limited Video Lottery terminals alone. That’s ignoring everything else that the WV Lottery does.

I simply don’t know how, given that they ARE a monopoly, they wouldn’t follow the same exact model. It would do absolutely killer business AND accomplish their desired effect of also crushing the unregulated Games of Skill.

In any event, while I accept that lottery ticket purchases are voluntary, I still don’t like them being monopolized.

2.) The Lotteries Are (Sometimes) Hypocritical

-I’ll keep this short: If a state isn’t willing to authorize Commercial Casinos, then it should not have a lottery. It’s just that simple. It’s almost like saying, “Commercial gambling is NOT okay, unless the money is going directly to the Government, of course.”

3.) Poor RTP’s

-In my opinion, the RTP’s for state lotteries are much worse than necessary and, I think, so poor that they would probably make more money by virtue of having better returns. We have seen increases in Instant Ticket sales far eclipse those of Drawing Tickets (which declined in several of the states we looked at) and I think part of the reason why is because players actually win sometimes and the overall RTP’s are better.

Do these players often buy a $5 ticket, win $20, then buy $20 worth of tickets? Probably. But, if you can churn out the small-medium prizes and increase both revenues and RTP all the while, then why not do it? It’s basically the penny slot machine concept: If you give the player frequent small wins, then soon enough, they will lose their initial stake without being soured on the game.

That’s why we see the higher denomination tickets have better RTP. If people bought twenty $20 tickets in their lifetime and totally struck out on every single one, then it is less likely that a player would continue to play those. I think that because those tickets have a better RTP than other ticket types, you are seeing a greater proportion of those higher denomination tickets as a percentage of sales. As a percentage of sales, we find that they represent a consistent and gradual increase.

This is just another case of the lotteries shooting themselves in the foot, as do the lotteries in any state that does not allow for Limited Video Lottery Terminals.

Why are the revenues so poor on State Lottery Keno draw games? Simple: Because the returns are terrible. That said, the Keno games are better than all drawing tickets (generally) and are as good or better, on average, than Instant Tickets, but the revenues from those games are not even in the ballpark of what Limited VLT would do. The Limited VLT revenues that West Virginia brings in blow out the TOTAL REVENUES from Lottery Keno games in states with many orders of magnitude greater population.

With that, all of these State Lotteries are sitting on an absolute slam dunk, a slam dunk that would return ~90% back to players, I might add, and they do nothing to implement it.

In any event, I think the poor RTP’s are bad for the players as well as the lottery. We have seen what has been going on with Mega Millions and Powerball sales as a direct result of the fact that they have made the games worse for the players.

It’s not actually about the players believing they can win in the long run, absent top jackpots, they never will, and mathematically, never would with infinite play. It’s about the players perceiving that they could eventually hit a good enough run to make them a ton of money and believing that previous results are an indication of future results, like slot machines. You simply can’t tan people for 30%+ and expect them to continue to play in increasing numbers.

4.) The Lottery Doesn’t Care

-Some lotteries have machines that can dispense Instant Tickets, Drawing Tickets, or both and are usually in pretty open areas of various facilities. While I certainly don’t think that minors playing the lottery is a widespread problem, or even happens very much at all, it remains possible and almost certainly happens to some non-zero extent.

Why is it that casinos get fined if the state sends a minor in and finds that minor was permitted to play a slot machine, but at the same time, they set up a form of gambling such that a minor playing it is highly unlikely to be caught? I really don’t see how this fails to be a hypocritical scenario.

In theory, casinos would have the safeguard of having someone check ID’s at all entries to the slot floor, but who is checking the ID’s at these lottery machines right smack in the middle of locations that are, by definition, accessible to minors? Nobody, that’s who. They usually don’t card you to walk into a gas station.

For that reason, I think that all lottery tickets should be behind the counter until such time that they are purchased. At that point, if purchased by a minor, then it becomes the fault of the retailer. If a minor purchases from a lottery machine and the retailer fails to notice, then as far as I am concerned, that’s on the lottery—not that the lottery would care.

They do care if the minor tries to cash out the ticket, of course. It appears, at least from most machines that I have seen, you would sometimes need to scan your ID to actually redeem a winning ticket.

5.) The Lottery Preys On Problem Gamblers

I’ll kiss a pig if it doesn’t.

Everywhere people go, just doing ordinary things, there are advertisements for the lottery and declarations as to the current jackpots. Lottery tickets are sold almost everywhere. Fortunately, I suspect that many problem gamblers couldn’t be compelled to play the lottery anyway, but some of them certainly would.

For many people, breaking a trend of addiction is all about removing the temptation, but if someone is both a problem gambler and inclined to play the lottery, how would they do that? Would they stop ever getting gas or find the one gas station in a fifty mile radius that doesn’t sell lottery tickets? What about grocery stores and convenience stores? Is the answer, for such situated people, to simply never shop for anything?

This is much different than land or online casinos because, at the end of the day, the person has to be visiting the casino. There’s only one fundamental purpose for visiting an online casino, which is to gamble, otherwise, why log in? There might be other reasons to visit a land casino, but the reasons are mostly to gamble, and almost any non-gambling activity that can be done in a land casino can also be done elsewhere.

If someone had a problem with online gambling, the first thing I would do, if I were them, is block a whole bunch of websites and E-Mails. I mean, people with a problem with online gambling and land casino gambling CAN actually get away from it just by taking a few measures to reduce their exposure and temptation.

How do you eliminate exposure to the lottery? They advertise everywhere. In many states, you would be hard pressed to find a gas station, grocery store or convenience store that doesn’t sell lottery tickets. For those reasons, I consider the lottery highly predatory.

Of course, state lotteries could never survive if they operated only by having locations that exist for the specific purpose of selling lottery tickets, (and eliminated themselves from gas stations and grocery stores) so that’s why they don’t do that. The costs to operate would be entirely too high and revenues would plummet. The lottery succeeds because it is highly accessible, in fact, it would be tough just to live an average day without seeing something lottery-related.

CONCLUSION

That does it for this lottery report comparing the loss per resident from Fiscal Year 2019 to Fiscal Year 2021, or even 2022, if data for 2022 was available.

Our Table is obviously incomplete due to some states being WAY behind on publishing this purportedly public information, so we will try to update as the new reports for FY21 come out. Should you happen to know a report is available for any states that are missing, and you would be so kind, please send a PM to Mission146 at WizardofVegas and this page will be updated in short order.

It is most likely that we will wait two years, or maybe even three, before doing this sort of comprehensive analysis again simply because trends seem to pretty much be set and you can also find the Annual Reports for FY22 for a state that you’re interested in pretty easily as they come out. I want to thank everyone for reading all or part of this, and remember, even if the Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot looks like a high number, the lottery still, and will always, suck.


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