Gregory Smith, president and CEO of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, Now halfway through FY2018-19, the Lottery is well ahead of FY2018 and poised to set some new records

in Lottery

The Connecticut Lottery is already off to a great start as we begin 2019. We are in a solid financial position, and this will result in more revenue to help fund the state of Connecticut.

In fiscal year 2017-18, we achieved many record-setting results: Our sales exceeded $1.2 billion (the No. 5 ranking in the country, per capita). We returned $345 million to the state’s General Fund, monies that are then used towards a variety of essential services and causes like education, health and infrastructure, and so much more. And, our players won more than $790 million in prizes.

Now halfway through FY2018-19, the CT Lottery is well ahead of FY2018 and poised to set some new records. Later this month we will begin placinglottery vending machines at busy retail locations from which players can buy all of our games, not just scratch tickets. And by this summer, we will have launched a loyalty program (“Players Club”) to reward participants with prizes ranging from cash and merchandise to tickets to sporting events and musical performances.

The CT Lottery provides benefits that are difficult to quantify. Our economic impact includes supporting local businesses through our more than 2,900-member retailer network – mostly small- and medium-size businesses – which earned more than $70 million in commissions in FY18. Also, the spending on other merchandise by lottery players is significant. A study done by the National Association of Convenience Stores indicates that lottery customers spend 65 percent more while at convenience stores than non-lottery customers.

Lottery winnings yielded close to $8 million in additional state withholding taxes last year. The CT Lottery is also one of the gaming industry’s leaders in responsible gambling, contributing significantly to education and research and widely promoting healthy gambling habits. A problem gambling helpline number appears on every ticket.

In the coming year, we hope to make more updates that will reap even more benefits for Connecticut and its residents. Our priorities include:

* Offering sports betting at retail locations (like the Delaware Lottery does) and through mobile and internet portals. Allowing the CT Lottery to be a sports betting operator simply makes sense. Our infrastructure is uniquely positioned to offer sports betting in customizable ways. The state would receive all the net revenue generated from sports betting, as opposed to a small tax from total gaming revenues as with other potential operators.

If the goals for legalizing sports betting in Connecticut are to bring all of the currently illegal activity into the daylight and to maximize the returns to the state, then having multiple locations across Connecticut and online via the CT Lottery will optimize those outcomes.

* Offering mobile/internet lottery for all terminal games (Powerball, Mega Millions, etc.). The logic behind online lottery sales is simple – we need to meet our players where they are. And increasingly, we are all on our computers and phones. Modernizing our distribution channels is essential to the long-term maintenance and growth of the CT Lottery’s revenue stream. We would implement safety and security enhancements through a mobile channel such as age verification, time and spend limits and voluntary self-exclusion.

The U.S. lottery industry has developed, and continues to develop, technology that will result in even more proceeds for Connecticut. Lottery vending machines, loyalty programs, sports betting and online lottery are all components of this. These technology upgrades also help to fortify our responsible gambling efforts. We will be able to engage with our players directly and even send them educational materials.

The CT Lottery was created to raise funds for the state, and we have been effective and efficient in doing that for almost 50 years. Authorizing the CT Lottery to implement enhancements to evolve and operate like a 21st-century business will allow us to continue providing increasing funds that support Connecticut and its residents for years to come.

Gregory Smith is the president and CEO of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation.