Today's drawing for the Massachusetts State Lottery's Star Spangled Sweepstakes is likely to be bittersweet, except for the game's winners.
Lottery officials will hand out $40 million in prize money to 51 ticket holders even though the game generated ticket sales of only $28 million to $30 million.
The results can be found here:
The money-losing game is one reason the lottery fell short of matching last year's overall revenue total for the fiscal year that ended Saturday.
Officials said preliminary numbers indicate overall lottery sales were off 1.5 percent from last year's record take of $4.52 billion.
Lottery sales, particularly instant ticket sales, picked up dramatically in the final month, officials said, but not enough to close the gap.
One major disappointment was the state's first-ever sweepstakes game. Sales of the $20 sweepstakes tickets fell roughly 2.5 million short of the 4 million goal.
Lottery officials said late yesterday that a precise sales figure was not available yet because they were still collecting the unpurchased tickets from the state's 7,500 lottery agents. Until a final tally of unsold tickets is completed, the officials said a sales total for the game cannot be tabulated.
Lottery profits are one of the major sources of revenue for state aid to cities and towns. Officials forecasted that the lottery's overall profit would exceed $900 million for the third year in a row. They said municipalities would receive the full $920 million promised for fiscal 2007, with any shortfall being made up from next year's lottery proceeds or from the state's so-called rainy day fund.
The sweepstakes game was an attempt to boost lottery revenues in the waning days of the fiscal year by attempting to sell $80 million in tickets in the past two months.
The game offered a top award of $20 million, 10 $1 million prizes, and 40 prizes of $250,000 each. All of the prizes will be paid in lump sums rather than in installment payments.
The chance of winning a prize is very good for a lottery game. State Treasurer Timothy Cahill said last week that the odds of winning would be 1 in 49,000 if 2 million tickets were sold.
Officials yesterday said they had not recalculated the odds for 1.5 million in ticket sales.
The lottery will draw the winners only from a pool of the numbers that were purchased.
Several people who purchased sweepstakes tickets grumbled that the lottery kept selling them beyond the original Saturday deadline, thus reducing their odds of winning.
But the lottery issued a statement saying the longer sales period was legal.
"As with other lottery instant games, and following applicable rules and regulations, agents can continue to sell sweepstakes tickets until the tickets are picked up by a lottery employee," the statement said. "The retrieval process began Sunday and is estimated to be completed" Tuesday.