The Maine Lottery hit all the winning numbers for the state’s 2016 fiscal year, with record highs for ticket sales, prize money paid to winners, commissions earned by retailers and contributions to Maine’s General Fund.

State officials said it was the most successful year in the lottery’s 42-year history, with a total of $57 million in lottery proceeds going into the General Fund, up from $54 million in fiscal year 2015. The state’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

It was the second year in a row that Maine Lottery proceeds broke records, said Gregg Mineo, director of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations. Total lottery sales were $272.3 million, up from $253.1 million the previous year.

Players took home a record total, before taxes, of $178.2 million in winnings from the lottery’s draw and instant win games, up from $166.7 million the previous year.

“The largest prize we gave out was $3 million, and that was to a group of 14 guys who work at (Bath Iron Works),” said Michael Boardman, the bureau’s lottery division director.

Retailers earned $18.1 million in commissions, another all-time high since the state lottery was established in 1974. In fiscal year 2015, retailers earned $16.9 million in commissions. Mineo said there are more than 1,200 lottery retailers in Maine.


“We’re especially proud of what we were able to contribute to our lottery retailers,” he said.

The $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot in January helped to drive draw game sales up 50 percent over fiscal year 2015, Mineo said. But the big sellers remained instant “scratch” tickets, which totaled $210.5 million in sales, up from $199.5 million the previous year.

Mineo said the bureau continued to refine its lineup of instant tickets based on the types of ticket players purchase the most. The bread-and-butter of scratch ticket sales are those at the $5 and $10 price points, he said, but the bureau experimented successfully with higher-priced tickets in fiscal year 2016, introducing a $25 ticket for the first time. Previously, the most expensive ticket was $20.

“The only thing we’ve added in the past year is the $25 (ticket), ‘$40 Million Fortune,’ which has been just very successful for us,” Mineo said.

The bureau also has capitalized on its understanding of the types of instant-win games that players prefer and has boosted those offerings, he said. For example, it found that the best-selling scratch tickets in Maine are those that involve letters or numbers.

“Crossword games in particular always do well,” Mineo said. “Any game that has really strong interaction with the player.”


Tickets branded with the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots professional sports teams also generally sell well, he said, “depending on how they are doing.”

The $57 million in contributions to Maine’s General Fund in fiscal year 2016 will be put to a variety of uses, including funding for education, Mineo said. The money helped Maine end the fiscal year with a $93 million budget surplus. In addition to the General Fund contributions, the lottery also provided more than $600,000 to the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund to support wildlife and conservation programs in Maine.

State lotteries have many critics who note that a disproportionately large amount of lottery revenue comes from lower-income residents, those who can least afford to lose their money gambling.

But Mineo said that as a form of entertainment, the lottery is a bargain for players, paying out more than 65 percent of ticket sales revenue in prizes.

“I’d like to see another form of entertainment that pays back overall at that rate,” he said. “Yes, this is a business for the state, but it’s a business that provides excellent profits for the state that go to worthy causes.”


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