Pandemic-fueled lottery sales generate record $2B for Florida education fund

by | Aug 2, 2021


(The Center Square) – The Florida Lottery has recorded double-digit increases in sales and revenues since June 2020 and that trend is not slackening – May’s state lottery sales were up by 23%, or $1.52 billion, compared to May 2020.

As a result, for the first time in the Florida Lottery’s 33-year history, its contributions to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF) during Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) exceeded $2 billion, more than $300 million above forecasts.

Nevertheless, state economists are sticking with their guns and – as they did in quarterly revenue estimating conferences (REC) in December and March – and again projecting lottery revenues, especially from scratch-off ticket sales, will slacken as the pandemic-skewered economy stabilizes.

“Right now, we still see some pandemic-related stuff. Probably for another couple of months and then that’ll go away,” Governor’s Office of Policy & Budget Policy Coordinator Holger Ciupalo said Tuesday during a quarterly REC on lottery revenues for the EEFT.

The REC is comprised of economists from state agencies, the Governor’s Office and the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research (EDR) who meet regularly to update economic projections. Lawmakers rely on EDR data and REC forecasts to build the state’s budget

The REC is traditionally conservative in revenue estimates so Ciupalo reiterating the same reasoning for slowing sales as the two previous quarterly RECs on lottery sales did is standard pragmatism for state economists.

The only question, he said, is when the record increase in lottery ticket sales will eventually slacken and return to “normal.”

When will that happen? “We don’t know,” Ciupalo said.

The Florida Lottery announced on May 24 it had notched $2 billion in contributions to the state’s EETF during FY21.

According to a July 23 EEFT update presented Tuesday to the REC, the fund began FY22 on July 1 with $2.4 billion in is coffers with $152.3 million in revenues from slot machines and $2.085 billion in lottery ticket sales revenues.

Ticket sales topped December forecasts by more than $300 million. The March REC estimated sales would exceed estimates by nearly $144 million.

From that $2.4 billion, the EEFT is allocating $730.7 million to public schools

$623.3 million for Bright Futures scholarships, $503 million for state university system, $196 million for state college system and $106.6 million for workforce education.

However, the REC projects FY 22 lottery ticket sales to decline by 7.3%, or $641.5 million, from last year and fail to top $2 billion.

In the ensuing three years, lottery ticket sales will increase from FY 22’s projected $1.94 billion in sales by an average of $274.2 million a year, but not eclipse FY 21’s $2.085 billion.

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