Oklahoma Lottery sales have been lower than expected this summer, but Powerball play remained strong, the executive director of the Oklahoma Lottery Commission said Tuesday.
James Scroggins said about 367 businesses abandoned lottery sales, but more businesses were added than dropped off, increasing the number of retailers to 2,222.
He said a slowdown in lottery sales in the summer is typical as people go on vacation and spend money on other recreational activities. He said other states are having similar experiences and he guesses high gasoline prices may be exacerbating the problem.
He presented unofficial figures showing the state will soon transfer to education an additional $454,825, bringing the total transferred to $65.7 million since lottery sales began in mid-October of 2005 at about 1,200 locations.
Preliminary figures show total sales at $204.9 million, with $109.5 million being paid out in prizes. Powerball sales topped $71 million and Oklahoma has outpaced other larger states in the network, Scroggins said.
"It could have been worse (without Powerball)," he told commission members. "It was bad enough as it was."
Scroggins said Oklahoma has an "ambitious" goal of raising $123 million in net profit for education for the fiscal year that began July 1 and he is not unduly concerned at this point about not reaching that goal.
If sales do not improve in September and the fall months, "then we may have an issue," he said after a meeting of the lottery panel.
He told the commission that an analysis would be done on recruiting businesses that have not yet participated in the lottery.
Someone suggested that bowling alleys might be a good prospect. Scroggins said it was his experience as director of the Missouri lottery that "pull tab" machines were a big draw at bowling alleys. Such machines are not allowed in Oklahoma.
Scroggins also presented commission members with a list of relatively minor proposed rule changes that included incorporating statutory language banning pawnshops and payday loan companies from selling lottery tickets. The commission had approved a similar rule.