It’s $1.02 Billion Day Mega Millions lottery, only the third time in 20 years that the jackpot for the multistate game has crossed the billion dollar. And John Gilliland, public information officer for the Arizona Lottery, is feeling the excitement — even working from home, waiting for the exterminators.
“We love these days,” Gilliland said.
“There is a common sense of buying a lottery ticket during the big jackpot weeks. It’s what everyone is talking about, ‘What would you do with all that money?’”
Big jackpot days are also the days when the all-American lotto once again becomes the biggest game in town.
It has had some competition in Arizona since legal sports betting launched statewide in September 2021. In April last year, Governor Doug Ducey signed the so-called “gambling extension bill,” House Bill 2772, which legalized betting on sporting events. featuring daily fantasy sports competitions, keno games, and a statewide mobile lottery game.
The negotiating box lasted more than five years and required the support of the state’s tribal casinos and professional sports teams, all of whom were allowed to host gambling activities at their locations.
At the time, however, the gambling expansion was seen as a potential financial burden on the Arizona Lottery, which funnels approximately $400,000 of its revenue into charitable programs each year. Would the gambling men and women of Arizona still be putting their hard-earned dollars on lottery tickets with so many new and heavily hyped gambling choices popping up on their smartphones?
It turns out they have been. “I can’t say it changed the lottery in terms of the money we’ve seen coming in, as sales have steadily increased despite the appearance of sports betting,” said Gilliland, quite a sports junkie himself (his Twitter avatar shows him drinks share with Michael Jordan at Phoenix Raceway last November). “It’s a different kind of person who deals with sports betting, which involves small bets that are often placed with some skill and some knowledge that can give you an advantage. While the lottery is completely random and played by everyone for fun. You know, there’s a much lower skill requirement for playing the lottery than for sports betting.”
While Arizona residents wagered nearly $3 billion on sports betting during the first six months of the program (which represents about $8.5 million in state tax revenue and more than $18 million for the sports betting sites), the Arizona Lottery had little negative impact on its own sales. For the previous fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, the Arizona Lottery had record sales of approximately $1.4 billion.
During the fiscal year ending June 2022, in which the lottery survived the first nine months of legalized sports betting in Arizona, coupled with rising inflation that curtailed consumer spending across the country, it still cost nearly the same amount: $1,368 billion. to sell. That amounted to nearly 178 million tickets sold for the two multi-state drawing games in which Arizona participates – Mega Millions and the Powerball – and an additional 85.6 million tickets for in-state games, such as The Pick and Fantasy 5.
Gilliland’s point about a “different kind of person” playing the lottery also applies to the way tickets are sold. While much of sports betting is done online, through web-based sports books and apps, you still have to walk into a store to buy an Arizona Lottery ticket.
“We’ve only recently been legally authorized to develop a mobile game, but we’re still figuring out how to do that,” Gilliland said. “Currently, we still only do personal sales at licensed retailers.”
Some bet that the old-fashioned physical limitation adds to the lasting appeal of the lottery. You’re more likely to run into your neighbors buying Mega Millions tickets at the local grocery store or bond with your coworkers entering a lottery pool than placing a bet on your FanDuel or DraftKings app.
Recently, that communal atmosphere got a new boost from Hollywood in the movie “Jerry and Marge Go Large,” where a couple of retirees discover a loophole in the grand multi-state game and begin to use their windfalls to make their own lives. improve along with those in their lives. small town — a script based on a true story.
Of course, there are also plenty of true stories of people winning big at the lottery only to see their lives fall apart, including one of a Pennsylvania lottery winner whose own brother hired a hit man to kill him for the $16 payout. ,2 million. “Everyone dreams of winning money, but no one realizes the nightmares that come from the woodwork, or the trouble,” said William “Bud” Post just five years after his big win. “I wish I had tore up that card.”
Despite all the cautionary tales and competition from other gaming platforms, Arizonans continue to play the lottery and dream of those mega-million bonanzas.
“We’re just thankful to everyone who buys a ticket because they’re helping us do a lot of good in the state — whether they hit that big jackpot or not,” Gilliland said. Of course it’s even better if they do. “If anyone in Arizona takes a really big prize, that money that is brought into their community is taxes that are paid to the state and federal government. That’s money coming in to local businesses and charities in their communities. All kinds of good things come from a big Arizona Lottery victory.”