The Hartford Business Journal recently conducted an interview of the Connecticut Lottery CEO.
Q: The lottery has a rich history in our country, dating back to the Revolutionary War when it was used to finance armaments. A legislator floated the idea of a super lottery for deficit reduction. Is there a lottery game out there that could generate $1 billion for the state in profit?
Currently, our revenues to the state exceed a quarter-billion dollars annually. It is unlikely that there exists one particular game that could generate $1 billion annually for Connecticut. However, we are prepared to implement new options for gaming if requested to do so by the legislature in order to help close the budget deficit.
Q: The top beneficiary of the lottery's $283 million profit last year was Medicaid at $61.4 million. Are people surprised to find out six cents of every lottery dollar wagered goes to Medicaid? Do people still think the lottery supports only education?
Clearly, people believe the lottery was intended to have education as its sole beneficiary. When first presented, a number of options were publicly discussed, including the return of all proceeds to education. When legislation was finally passed in 1971, the result was to "share the wealth" of lottery profits by disbursing revenues to a variety of programs and services included in the general fund. Health is important; Medicaid is an essential program that benefits from lottery proceeds. Last year, more than $64 million from lottery proceeds was returned to education in the state, as well as public health, conservation, mental health, and more.
Q: Your annual report states that 2008 saw an increase of $41.1 million in sales. How is 2009 shaping up? The annual report says it's difficult to demonstrate a relationship between economic indicators and sales, but how does the lottery play get affected in Connecticut by a bad economy?
It has long been believed that the lottery industry is recession-proof. However, for the first time, the lottery industry is experiencing a contraction. Consumers have less discretionary income with which to purchase many items, lottery tickets included.
Sales of tickets for jackpot driven games, like Powerball, have a significant revenue impact; large jackpots spur sales activity. Powerball has not experienced the jackpot level this fiscal year that we had hoped for, which has negatively affected revenue streams.
Q: What are some of the upcoming trends in lotteries in Connecticut? Computer games have been shot down in the past. Will they see resurgence in Connecticut?
Technology is constantly evolving, and there are a wealth of options that can produce incremental growth for lotteries through new games and distribution systems. Gambling via the internet is a complicated issue, and it is one that the CT Lottery will not consider until federal and state laws are secure, and we have been asked to review such action.
Q: What's the biggest misconception folks have about the lottery?
We often hear that "no one wins" or that prizes aren't big enough. Just using last year's figures, the CT Lottery awarded more than $608 million in prizes to ticket holders. Since 1972, more than $10.5 billion in prizes has been awarded, so people are obviously winning.
Anne M. Noble, President/CEO, Connecticut Lottery Corp.