The Ohio Lottery didn’t expect the balls to bounce its way when casinos started opening in the state.
And they haven’t, at least for some traditional lottery games.
Instant tickets — the lottery’s most popular game with more than $1.4 billion sold a year — have seen sales fall 4 percent, or $59.6 million, over the past year when compared with the previous 12-month period.
The vast majority of that decline, about $58 million, was in the past six months, according to a Beacon Journal analysis of monthly revenue figures the Ohio Lottery Commission provided.
Classic Lotto, Pick 3 and Pick 4 games also have seen declines in sales.
Lottery Director Dennis Berg said the new casinos and racinos probably have had an impact as they compete with the lottery for discretionary spending.
Officials had predicted that sales of instant tickets, called scratch-offs, would fall 5 percent after the first Ohio casino opened in Cleveland in May 2012.
Since then, three more casinos opened — in Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati — and two racinos were launched at horse tracks in Columbus and suburban Cleveland, with another five on the way.
The biggest declines in instant ticket sales have come in the major cities where the casinos and racinos are located, Berg said.
Several lottery retailers in the Akron area said they haven’t seen any negative effect. There are about 9,500 lottery agents statewide.
“People still play the lottery,” said Bill Saikaly, owner of Bill$ Place in Akron. “The same people who play the lottery are going to the casino.”
Some people are playing as much as $60 or $70 a day on the lottery, Saikaly said.
Perhaps retailers closer to the casinos are having a tougher time, said Dave Shin, owner of Towne & Country Market in Boston Township, where a $1 million Mega Millions ticket was sold in August.
He said the economy has had a bigger effect on the sales of instant tickets than the Cleveland casino and now ThistleDown Racino, which opened in North Randall last month.
Lottery revenue overall for the last 12 months slipped 1 percent. But there’s an easy explanation for the slight decline.
The lottery took in $56 million in March 2012 alone on Mega Millions, thanks to a world record $656 million jackpot that month. For comparison, the agency has pulled in anywhere from $6.4 million to $9.7 million a month for Mega Millions play during this fiscal year.
The good news for the lottery is that Keno and EZPLAY sales have climbed.
EZPLAY involves instant games generated through a lottery terminal.
Keno sales rose 26 percent to nearly $249 million, while EZPLAY instant games climbed 46 percent to $146 million.
The lottery has focused on improving Keno and EZPLAY options, which explains their growth, lottery spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb said.
The lottery also oversees the video lottery terminals at the horse tracks and enjoys a cut of racino revenue.
The lottery took in $37.8 million in the first 10 months from the Scioto Downs Racino in Columbus. ThistleDown Racino provided $2.6 million last month.
“To some degree, the racinos are going to more than make up the difference on the traditional side,” Berg said.
Traditional games such as Pick 4 dropped 6 percent to $193.8 million, Pick 3 fell 2 percent to $348 million and Classic Lotto declined 11 percent to $39.6 million.
“The key for us is to find those new revenue enhancement products that will continue to keep us growing on our traditional lottery side,” Berg said.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.