Record Lottery Profits In Ohio

CLEVELAND (AP) – The Ohio Lottery saw an eighth straight year of record profits, getting a boost from slots-like video terminals at two racinos and interactive games played by tavern patrons, according to a report from the lottery commission.

The commission on Monday reported that profits for the year ending June 30 were more than $803 million, up from $771 million in the previous fiscal year. The profits go to public education in the state.

Sales of traditional lottery games fell 1.4 percent, including the Pick 3 and Pick 4 number games, and instant scratch-off tickets.

Sales of Pick 3 and Pick 4 tickets, both big sellers, dropped 3.5 percent and 8.7 percent. Instant tickets, which account for more than half of sales, were down more than 5 percent. However, sales of traditional lottery games were better than officials had projected.

Traditional lottery games may have been affected by racinos – combined race tracks and casinos – and four casinos that opened in the state – in Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati – over the last year.

Scioto Downs in Columbus turned into a racino at the start of the fiscal year, and ThistleDown near Cleveland followed on April 9.

The lottery, which collects a 33.3 percent tax on video slots revenue, received a total of more than $55 million from the tracks before June 30.

Five more tracks will add the slots terminals, and the lottery expects to receive $3 million a month from each location. New tracks are under construction in the Youngstown and Dayton areas and north of Cincinnati.

Tavern games Keno and EZPlay also helped boost lottery profits last year, officials said.

State officials have asked lottery Director Dennis Berg to draft a plan for keeping the lottery strong. He said he wouldn’t rule out joining the trend toward offering online casino games.

Berg has said sales of traditional lottery games have also been hurt by changes in shopping habits, with more people going to big-box stores and other places that don’t typically offer lottery games.