ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico Lottery sales increased slightly more than $1 million in fiscal year 2015 compared with the previous year, and lottery officials put about $200,000 more toward scholarships than they did in fiscal year 2014, according to unaudited figures released Tuesday.
Total lottery sales reached about $137 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, compared with about $136 million the previous year. The lion’s share of the revenue increase came from a $10.2 million bump in scratch ticket sales. That helped to offset declines in Powerball and Mega Millions sales.
Lottery CEO David Barden said a lack of mega-jackpots in either of those multistate games led to the declines. Powerball sales decreased from $34 million to $27.2 million, or 18.5 percent. Mega Millions sales decreased from $13.4 million to $11.2 million, or 16.8 percent.
But scratch ticket sales jumped from $69.8 million to $79.9 million, or 14.5 percent.
“We began a number of new strategies this year, and players responded,” Barden said. The strategies include a yearlong scratch promotion, monthly game launches and promotions printed on scratch tickets. New advertising initiatives also were implemented, such as digital and mobile ads, and ads on transit buses and grocery “in-store” radio.
Since 2009, the state Legislature has required the state lottery to contribute at least 30 percent of gross revenues to the scholarship fund annually – which it did this past fiscal year, contributing the benchmark 30 percent, or $41.1 million. Last fiscal year, the scholarship fund received $40.9 million.
The primary beneficiary of the state lottery is the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program, which pays a portion of tuition for eligible students attending state-funded colleges and universities. Currently, the scholarships cover about 90 percent of tuition costs. Students at research universities – the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech – must take 15 credit hours a semester to qualify for a lottery scholarship.
Since its inception in 1996, the lottery has raised a total of $654.5 million for education in New Mexico. More than 97,000 students have attended college on lottery scholarships, and about 49,000 students have received college degrees, according to lottery officials.