Massacusetts Lottery ticket sales soared again, earning the state a record-breaking $935 million in revenue in the fiscal year that ended June 30, Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill said.
Cahill said the new figures, which will be finalized in October, are significant since national ticket sales are down roughly 20 percent.
"I think what might set us apart is that we work very hard to find games that our customers like," Cahill said.
This is the second consecutive year lottery sales have increased. Instant ticket sales boosted the revenues, making up $3.13 billion or 70 percent of total sales this year. Huge multistate jackpot games are also a big draw, and the lottery's newest jackpot game, CASH WinFall, made up $41.8 million of this year's sales, Cahill said.
Other major receipts this year include Keno with $742 million in sales; MassCash with $43.8 million; Megabucks with $44.5 million and the numbers game with sales of $352 million, Cahill said.
In recent years, the Legislature has capped the amount of revenue destined for the state's 351 cities and towns ataround $600 million.
"Before we do anything, we should lift the cap and make sure the cities and towns get what they have gotten historically," Cahill said.
John Condon, the chief financial officer for Brockton, said cities and towns rely on lottery aid because they are restricted in how they are able to raise revenues.
"The communities need those monies, especially the poorer communities," Condon said. "It's a necessary and important piece of our financial structure."This is all good news for the Massachusetts State Lottery, which was established in 1971 solely to generate money for items such as firefighters and library books in Massachusetts' 351 cities and towns.
The Lottery's fiscal 2005 sales of $4.48 billion were more than 2.3 percent above its fiscal 2004 sales of $4.38 billion, which themselves were a record high. While Lottery sales increased in most MetroWest cities and towns in fiscal 2005 over fiscal 2004, they dipped in 14 local spots: Blackstone, Franklin, Holliston, Marlborough, Maynard, Millville, Northbridge, Sherborn, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Wayland, Wellesley and Westwood.
State Treasurer Timothy Cahill attributes the Lottery's success to its comparatively large payouts and an advertising budget reinstated in fiscal 2004.
"And I think the people in this state have generally accepted the Lottery because they know where the money goes," said Cahill, who serves as chairman of the Lottery.
The state, however, has been skimming from the Lottery's profits in recent lean budget years and spending some of the proceeds intended for cities and towns on the state's general budget.
The Lottery sent $935 million to the state in fiscal 2005 -- approximately 21 percent of its revenues, which is everything not spent on prizes and in-house expenses. Yet the state diverted $274 million of that total and sent just $661 to cities and towns.
Cahill said the state should stop this diversion immediately, considering the strong Lottery numbers and a surplus of money left over from fiscal 2005 in the state's coffers.
"The fact that we're not able to send all this money to cities and towns has had a significant impact," Cahill said. "I call on the Legislature and the governor to immediately lift the cap and then they can decide what they can do with the rest of the surplus."
The amount of the surplus is not known yet, though some on Beacon Hill estimate it to be as high as $1 billion.
Geoffrey Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, welcomed Cahill to the chorus of municipal officials calling for the end of the Lottery diversion as soon as possible.
"Now is the time to return the Lottery to its original mission," Beckwith said.
The state has a schedule in place to end the Lottery diversion so all proceeds go to cities and towns by fiscal 2009.
Scratch tickets accounted for 70 percent, or $3.13 billion, of the Lottery's total sales last fiscal year.
Sales from other games include: Keno, $742 million; the Numbers, $352 million; Megabucks, $44.5 million; Mass Cash, $43.8 million; and the new CASH WinFall (introduced in September 2004), $41.8 million. The multistate Mega Millions also sent $97 million to Massachusetts.