Tennessee Lottery Reports Record Quarter Of Sales During Pandemic

Despite a pandemic hitting the U.S. in March, the Tennessee Education Lottery saw record sales in the fiscal year ending June 30, the group announced last week.

According to the TEL, it recorded its highest gross total revenues of $1.84 billion, up slightly from the $1.81 billion recorded in the previous fiscal year. Total revenues of $527.3 million for the fourth quarter of FY 2020, which spanned from April 1 to June 30, were the “highest of any quarter since inception,” stated a press release. The Tennessee Lottery launched in 2004.

In FY 2018, the TEL reported $1.735 billion in sales. Growth in FY 2020 was trimmed to about a percentage point, down from 4.4% growth from FY 2018 to FY 2019.

From the $1.84 billion in FY 2020 sales, the TEL said it generated a total of $438,229,000 for education in Tennessee, including $17,605,000 for after-school programs. Since the Lottery’s inception in 2004, it has raised $5,503,978,000 for education in the Volunteer State.

The latest presser didn’t include data on the amount of prize money awarded in FY 2020. That information, along with more detailed data on revenues, should be released in FY 2020’s full report.

“We find ourselves in unique times, but our mission remains the same: to serve Tennessee by generating proceeds for education,” TEL President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove said in a statement.

“Throughout this spring and summer, we stayed focused on our mission. I am incredibly grateful for our committed retailers, passionate players, Board of Directors, and the dedicated team at the TEL who made this possible for Tennessee students.”

Tennessee-only games

The TEL credited the sales record to the success of Tennessee-only draw style and instant games.

Tennessee-only draw style games, which are Cash 3, Cash 4, Tennessee Cash, and Keno To Go, and instant games grew 8.2% and 7.4% over FY 2019, respectively, the TEL said.

It appears lottery play increased amid social distancing and the closure of many businesses deemed non-essential. In late March, Gov. Bill Lee issued a “safer-at-home” order, which closed many places of entertainment, such as movie theaters, but allowed grocery and convenience stores, for example, to remain open. Tennessee has thousands of lottery retailers sprinkled around the state.

Tennessee doesn’t allow the sale or play of lottery games via the internet, but it does have an app for information and player rewards that help boost retail sales. The app was recently revamped.

In late March, the federal government passed the CARES Act, which provided many Americans with much needed cash and unemployment assistance to weather the initial fallout of the public health crisis.

Sports wagering

The TEL has been busy maintaining operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s also in the process of launching sports wagering, made possible by a law passed in the first half of 2019.

Regulations were adopted this spring, and the state is poised to see the first online/mobile sportsbooks launch this fall. Tennessee will not have sports betting at any of the lottery retail locations.

At least three companies are seeking to serve as operators of sports wagering in the Volunteer State.