The Covid-19 virus has touched nearly every part of our lives for the last several months. The lottery is no exception. Let’s dive into how this global pandemic has already affected it and what kind of potential impact we might see in the future.
Initially, the pandemic brought a boost in sales to many lottery retailers. An article written by Alonzo Weston for newspressnow.com further explains this in the following way. “John Rowe, president of Speedy’s Convenient Inc., said [recently] his stores have seen a substantial overall increase in the sale of lottery tickets. “Over the last two months we’ve seen about a 9% increase in March and a 14% increase in April, so lotto sales are up.” He ultimately attributed this bump to the stimulus checks American’s received in the first couple months of the pandemic. However, months later, businesses are still being affected and that initial increase seems to have dwindled.
There are roughly a handful of states that were largely unaffected the Coronavirus in terms of their lottos. They had an online infrastructure set up that allowed them to continue with sales. Things are pretty much ‘business as usual’ for those states. However, the vast majority of states have not yet implemented online systems. Because of this, most states are suffering in terms of bringing in money. An article written by Michael Casey for latimes.com states, “Lottery officials say other states, like Massachusetts and Oregon, encountered revenue drops due to stay-at-home orders that forced the closure of restaurants, bars and some retailers that sell tickets. Some also blamed a lack of an online presence, something only a handful states currently allow.” Additionally, lottos like Powerball just slashed the amount of money the winner is guaranteed by $20 million to account for loss of sales. They also reduced their rollover money from $10 million to just $2 million. These drastic reductions clearly show how significantly the pandemic has affected lotteries large and small.
The fallout has led to numerous layoffs for jobs where the majority of the funding comes from lottery ticket sales. For example, the Oregon Parks and Recreation department was forced to lay off nearly 50 people because of an estimated $22 million dollar deficit in expected funds. Next year’s budget is a giant question mark for many. The truth is, we likely haven’t seen the worst of how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected departments like this across the country. We won’t know the full extent of it all until 2021 when the real budget numbers start rolling in. With this thought in mind, there is hope that some positions that were laid off will be rehired if next year’s budget allows. The future of the lottery and the departments it funds is unclear. As with everything else the Coronavirus has impacted, we’ll have to wait and see what happens when the dust settles.