Pandemic-induced lotto-buying frenzy expected to taper off, economists predict
Floridians turned to scratch-offs during the pandemic.

Scratching lottery tickets
Floridians turned to scratch-offs during the pandemic.

The pandemic induced nothing short of a lottery buying frenzy, leading to record-breaking funding for Florida’s education system. But economists are expecting sales of tickets to trail off in the coming months.

State economists met for a Revenue Estimating conference Tuesday to update revenue projections from Florida Lottery ticket sales.

Economists suggested during the meeting the dramatic increase in scratch-off sales seen since March 2020 will slow down in the coming weeks.

Holger Ciupalo, policy coordinator for the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, predicted the increase in lottery ticket sales won’t be sustained, but it’s impossible to say exactly when they’ll go back to normal levels.

“Right now, we still see some pandemic-related stuff. Probably for another couple of months and then that’ll go away,” Ciupalo said. “Supposedly, we don’t know,” he added.

This is the second time Florida’s economists have predicted pandemic-induced scratch-off sales will slow down. When economists first observed the increase in scratch-off sales last year they predicted the increase wouldn’t last for the entire fiscal year, and so the conference assumed a reduction in lottery sales for the last quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal year. But Florida’s lotto sales have continued breaking records.

When lottery sales exceed economists’ estimations, Florida’s education system wins. The latest numbers released by the Florida Lottery show more than $2 billion in contributions to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF) during the 2020-21 fiscal year. It’s the first time in the Lottery’s 33-year history that education contributions for a single fiscal year have reached $2 billion. The money will be used to fund Bright Futures Scholarships.

Economists and lottery officials surmised the uptick in scratch-off sales over the last fiscal year could be attributed to people having fewer options for discretionary spending during the pandemic and gave examples that included people being unable to spend money on activities such as going to the movies, sports betting and other gaming.

“Our players continue to enjoy the excitement surrounding growing jackpots and new product offerings during a time when there have been fewer discretionary entertainment options available. We are optimistic that this participation will continue this year,” Meredyth Hope Norrman, communications manager for the Florida Lottery, said in a written statement.

To reach lotto players during stay-at-home measures in June 2020 the Florida Lottery launched a new mobile app. The app allows players to check winning numbers, payout amounts and find places to buy scratch-offs and lottery tickets.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will publish final revenue projections on the website for the Office of Economic and Demographic Research once the numbers are finalized.

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected].


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