Lottery sales in the four-county area of Curry, De Baca, Quay, and Roosevelt have dropped 11 percent from six years ago.
The lottery was established to create revenues for education, so lottery sales are vital to college students who depend on the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program for tuition assistance.
The combined $1 million drop in lottery sales in the counties amounts to the loss of full-time tuition-assistance for about 20 students.
“Every day, we meet someone who tells us that their son or daughter or grandchild was the first person in their family to attend college, thanks to the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program,” said Linda Hamlin, communications manager for the New Mexico Lottery. “Along with our players, retailers, vendors and our elected officials, we’re very proud to be helping create those opportunities.”
De Baca County had the largest decrease in sales. The New Mexico Lottery reports it collected $390,000 in 2007, while in 2012 the amount was $235,000, a 40-percent decrease. Hamlin noted that over the six-year period, stores selling lottery tickets in De Baca County went from five to only two.
Curry County fell from approximately $5.3 million in 2007 to $4.8 million in 2012, Quay County dropped from $1.5 million to $1.2 million while Roosevelt County remained steady at $1.5 million.
“Sales are down for a combination of reasons, including a prolonged economic recovery, stores going out of business during the economic downturn, competition from other companies vying for people’s entertainment dollars, and limited lottery resources to reach new players and to help keep awareness high among existing players,” Hamlin said. “Also in border towns like Clovis, the lottery lost sales from out-of-state players when Texas joined the Powerball game in January 2010. These Texas players would come to New Mexico to buy Powerball tickets and while making that purchase they would also buy tickets for our Scratchers and other drawing games.”
New Mexico Lottery reports that in fiscal year 2012, $72 million in prize money was dispersed to players and $41.3 million went to the Legislative Lottery Scholarship (delivering its second-highest profits ever).
Hamlin explains that the lottery is working to continue to attract new players. They are offering Scratcher players with non-winning tickets second-chance opportunities to win cash, trips to concerts and merchandise prizes in special drawings; the “5/50/500” promotion is underway now — at nmlottery.com, players can enter five non-winning tickets from current Scratcher games into a drawing to win one of 50 prizes of $500 each.
They are also using social media, mobile communications, online tools, and new promotions to get the word out.
“The lottery always pursues strict fiscal discipline to help keep expenses as low as possible. For the fourth consecutive year, the lottery froze the salaries of its 55 employees and eliminated hiring except to backfill critical positions,” Hamlin said.
Some stores are still hopeful though. Gary Brown, accountant for Allsup’s convenience stores, said that as of October, they had seen a 10 percent increase in sales of lottery tickets for all of their stores located throughout the state.
“During hard times, lottery sales tend to increase due to the possibility of winning and receiving financial relief,” said Brown. “The return is so much larger than the initial cost of the ticket.”
Total amount in Lottery Scholarships awarded by county:
- Curry County: 2,077- Total students 1997 through summer semester 2012
- $7.4 million- Amount in total scholarships
- De Baca County: 127-Total students 1997 through summer semester 2012
- $616,929- Amount in total scholarships
- Quay County: 464- Total students 1997 through summer semester 2012
- $1.9 million- Amount in total scholarships
- Roosevelt County: 1,086- Total students 1997 through summer semester 2012
- $4.5 million- Amount in total scholarships
- Eastern New Mexico University: 7,199-Total students 1997 through summer semester 2012.
- $21 million- Amount in total scholarships
- Mesalands Community College: 285 - Total students 1997 through summer semester 2012
- $386,541- Amount in total scholarships