Despite a stubbornly lackluster economy, the New Mexico Lottery sent a record $43.6 million to the state’s scholarship fund and posted its fourth-highest revenues since selling its first scratch-off ticket in April 1996.
Lottery players spent $143.6 million in fiscal year 2010, which ended July 30. That’s not quite 1 percent more than hopeful players spent the year before.
“We are happy to announce that, at the conclusion of fiscal year 2010, revenues were up more than $1 million from the previous year, for a total of $143.6 million,” lottery CEO Tom Romero told the seven-member Lottery Authority board this week.
Romero said the lottery boosted the amount it puts into the state’s Legislative Lottery Scholarship fund by $2.8 million over the previous year’s contribution.
Romero said holding the line on expenses, adding the multi-state Mega Millions game, enrolling more lottery retailers and increasing sales of Roadrunner Cash, Pick 3 and Hot Lotto tickets helped the lottery’s bottom line.
Sales of Powerball and scratch-off tickets, however, declined by more than $2 million apiece compared to last year, he said.
Romero noted the lottery managed to surpass its legislative mandate to send at least 30 percent of its gross revenues to the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program, which pays tuition for qualifying students to attend state-supported colleges and universities.
During its first decade, the lottery had contributed an average of 23.4 percent of its gross revenues to scholarships, while spending nearly that much on administrative and operating costs. To keep the scholarship program solvent, the state Legislature now requires that a minimum of 30 percent of the lottery’s gross revenues go toward scholarships. Fiscal year 2010 was the first full year the lottery had to meet the new benchmark.
The $43.6 million the lottery sent to the scholarship fund represents 30.37 percent of its gross revenues — the highest ever.
Since 1996, the lottery has contributed $379.6 million to the scholarship fund.