LOTTERY SALES MISSING JACKPOT.
Failing to lure the public with more enticing games with larger payoffs, lottery sales have plunged in a number of states, but not in California.
Officials said Monday that a series of changes are paying off with billions of dollars in revenue.
Since California's lottery sales slumped to a low of $1.3 billion during the 1991-1992 fiscal year, revenue has steadily increased with the introduction of a scratchers game during the 1997-98 fiscal year in which more money was put into the prize pool, said lottery spokeswoman Norma Minas. Hoping to further increase lottery sales statewide, the California Lottery introduced the SuperLotto Plus June 7, 2000, with more ways to win than the old SuperLotto.
The change has reaped large rewards for the state, which is projecting profits of $2.85 billion for the fiscal year 2000-2001, the largest ever in the California Lottery's 15-year-history, Minas said.
``Back in June, we decided to change the game into something like a powerball-type game ... a lot of the time, when excitement for powerball surfaced in the media, people called and requested such a game here,'' Minas said.
Minas said officials with the California Lottery have looked into the successes and failures of other states and made decisions about the lottery with results from other states in mind.
In Texas, for example, the percentage of money going into prizes was cut in 1997, and the state's sales went down, Minas said.
``You look at those case studies make decisions,'' Minas said. ``We knew that in the past they were successful in adding to the prize pool.''
The Chicago Tribune reported that after 27 years, the Illinois Lottery has a number of problems.
Fewer people play, revenues are down and there's scant evidence that its $29.5 million ``players have more fun'' ad campaign has turned things around. Meanwhile, the lottery's ad budget is unlikely to increase under Gov. George Ryan, who once floated the idea of abandoning state-funded lottery advertising altogether.
Revenues from the Illinois Lottery, which started in 1974 as a way to boost the state's revenues, have fallen for the last four years and are down 20 percent from a decade ago, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Wisconsin lottery revenues fell 5 percent last year. Iowa fell 3 percent. New York's was down slightly. In Indiana, jackpot fatigue is blamed for a 14 percent drop in revenues last year and expected flat sales this year.
Patricia McQueen, lottery editor at International Gaming and Wagering Business, blames flat sales on inadequate market research and a failure to add new, enticing products.
``There absolutely is that sense everywhere that the games are old and stale,'' she said. ``They can tweak it here and there, but it's still basically the same game. Today's generation grew up with Nintendo and instant gratification, not plunking down a dollar for a lotto ticket and waiting. It's not the most exciting thing in the world.''
Political leaders, conflicted over gambling policy, often are reluctant to change lotteries, she said. Unlike casinos and horse tracks, which have private, politically powerful owners who lobby state government forever more favorable business conditions, lotteries usually are run by bureaucrats who keep a low profile.
Nationwide, the lotteries with the most significant growth are those that are relatively new, those that offer unusually heavy payouts with a smaller share for the state, or lotteries that have directly challenged casinos with fast-moving games bearing little resemblance to lotteries of the past.