Even though the House Ways and Means received dismal budget news Tuesday, the one piece of positive news they walked away with was the lottery revenue.
Lottery Executive Director Paula Harper Bethea told the lawmakers that the lottery fund is on target with this year’s estimate, which means the lottery will produce as much revenue as last year. Sales were $1.005 billion for fiscal 2009, up from $992 million the year before. Minus the prizes and other overhead, transfers to the state for 2009 were $260.4 million, down slightly from $266.1 million in 2008.
Bethea pointed out that the South Carolina lottery administration is careful not to target specific groups, but markets across the board.
“We know that our sales are coming from a clear cross-section of the people of South Carolina,” she said. “We are not targeting one group and one group is not playing an inordinate amount more than another group. We are not mandated by the legislature anymore to do a demographic study. But it’s important to us so we do that study every year.”
Bethea says the main method of studying exactly who buys lottery tickets is to talk to people at retailers where they are sold.
The lottery will launch the Mega Millions game starting January 31, which Bethea says will generate and estimated $18-$22 million net per year. South Carolina already sells Powerball tickets. Georgia also sells Mega Million tickets.
Bethea said South Carolina has one of the most cost-efficient lotteries in the country, and is charted just to the right of the incomes of much larger lottery programs
Bethea told the budget committee members that her revenue projections are cautious and that lottery administration would prefer the estimates be too low rather tan too high.