Capitol Alert

California Lottery posts highest sales on record

Duane Bouligny fills out Powerball lottery tickets at Moza Easy Shop in San Francisco in January.
Duane Bouligny fills out Powerball lottery tickets at Moza Easy Shop in San Francisco in January. The Associated Press

The California Lottery reported a boom year on Monday with sales of $6.3 billion, shattering last year’s record of $5.5 billion.

California schools will receive $1.5 billion this year, up from $1.39 billion in the last fiscal year. To put that in perspective, the most recent state budget apportions $65.8 billion from the general fund for K-12 and higher education.

According to last year’s financial report, 63.4 percent of lottery sales went out in prizes and 24.7 percent went to education for a total of 88.1 percent returned to the public. The remaining 11.9 percent is split between retail costs, operating expenses and game costs at 6.9 percent, 3.2 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Alex Traverso, a lottery spokesman, attributed part of the increase in this year’s revenue to the massive $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot in January. California began offering Powerball tickets in 2013, and Traverso said Powerball sales added almost $700 million this year.

“Anytime you have a jackpot like that, it definitely helps your bottom line,” he said Monday.

Lottery revenues have been increasing steadily since 2010, according to last year’s financial report. Nearly all the growth in revenue is driven by the increase in sales of Scratchers games, which jumped from $1.7 billion in 2010 to $3.9 billion in 2015.

Sales of Scratchers games again made up the bulk of this year’s lottery’s revenue at $4.4 billion. Traverso said the introduction of higher-price Scratchers games has increased sales but also increased payouts, which is why schools are a seeing a smaller increase despite the higher lottery revenue.

Traverso said the lottery is expecting even higher revenue in the next fiscal year, driven by jackpots in the multistate Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries.

“This is a great achievement for the California Lottery and great news for our state’s public schools,” Lottery Director Hugo López said in a prepared statement. “We know the money to schools is modest, but it helps in real ways.”

Anshu Siripurapu: 916-321-1060, @AnshuSiripurapu