Despite pandemic's impact on retailers, Pennsylvania Lottery posted strong revenue growth in past year

in Lottery

(The Center Square) – The effects of the pandemic over the past year were unpredictable both for private business and government agencies, but the Pennsylvania Lottery seems to have weathered it relatively unscathed.

The lottery's executive director, Drew Svitko, testified before the Senate Pennsylvania Appropriations Committee as part of its series of budget hearings, saying that his department actually did quite well, all things considered.

“Most of growth, to be clear, are from scratch-off tickets,” Svitko said. “iLottery was a tremendous boost to us in the pandemic because it allowed people to play safely. … We’re a well-diversified business, and we saw that really benefit us in the last year.”

Popular retail venues for lottery purchases – grocery and convenience stores – initially hurt during the pandemic are climbing once again as people are getting out more.

“And those retail sectors are now booming,” he said.

Luck played a part as well, he said, with huge Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots.

Even slumping sales from bars, restaurants and taverns without monitors hasn’t dampened the rising overall revenue.

“We have to budget conservatively,” he said. “But for next year and beyond I would still expect us to grow, but that growth will not be what it has been this year.”

Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Pittsburgh, asked how skill games and video gaming terminals effect the lottery.

Svitko said about 28 percent of the state’s lottery retailers have at least one VGT in their locations since the state first began installing them in 2017. The pandemic reduced usage, but as the machines are being turned back on, he expects the impact to go up.

“We’re have a fantastic year but it’s still a very real and mathematically proven impact those machines are having on us and those programs we fund for older Pennsylvanians,” he said.