Can $100 scratch-off's be far behind...in your state?
New Hampshire Clears Way for $30 Scratch Ticket
CONCORD, N.H. -- Reversing a committee recommendation, the New Hampshire state Senate approved a bill to give the state lottery commission more authority to operate and advertise -- including the potential to introduce a $30 scratch ticket.
The Concord (N.H.) Monitor reports that the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee recommended killing the bill, 3-2. The committee majority thought the state's current instant-game offerings -- $1, $2, $3, $5, $7, $10 and $20 scratch tickets -- were sufficient, said Sen. Jack Barnes, R-Raymond.
But the Senate overturned that recommendation, 14-9, before approving the bill on a voice vote. It will head to the Senate Finance Committee for financial review before returning for a final vote.
Supporters said the bill would allow the lottery to cater to the demands of the market, making it easier to generate lottery money for the state education budget. They pointed to the recent introduction of the $20 scratch tickets, which are selling at a pace of 30,000 tickets a week, far exceeding expectations. Sales of the $20 tickets hit 40,000 a week during the holiday season, according to lottery executive director Rick Wisler.
Senate President Ted Gatsas was one of the nine who wanted to defeat the bill. "If we're going to have an expansion of gambling, let's truly have an expansion of gambling," he said afterward. If lawmakers want to talk about $30 scratch tickets, they should also be prepared to talk about video lotteries, off-track betting and other gambling, said Gatsas, a Manchester Republican.
Gatsas also challenged those who argued that higher lottery sales would mean more money for education. The biennial budget was set last year. An increase in lottery revenues would just shift the percentage of the education budget paid by lottery players, not increase overall education spending, he said.
The bill as introduced included several measures, including giving the lottery system the power to create new incentives for ticket sellers as a way to boost sales. But it did not actually include language about $30 scratch tickets -- though that was the only lottery subject debated on the Senate floor Thursday.
The executive departments committee discussed the bill earlier this month with the idea that recommending approval would also mean endorsing an amendment to add language about the $30 tickets. That amendment didn't come up Thursday, because the committee wanted to kill the bill. But the 14-9 vote in support of the bill can be read as support for the $30 scratch tickets, said Sen. John Gallus, R-Berlin, the primary sponsor. He expects the amendment to be offered when the bill returns from the finance committee.
Opponents called the $30 instant game excessive. Lottery players who want to spend $30 could buy three $10 scratch tickets, they said. Gallus argued that if lawmakers want to charge the lottery with raising money for education, they should not "micromanage"the lottery commissioners.
Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, reminded his colleagues that New Hampshire was the first state to introduce the modern lottery, with a bill signed by then-governor John King in 1963. Since then, more than three-quarters of the states and several Canadian provinces have followed suit. That competition means the New Hampshire lottery needs to be more creative with its products, D'Allesandro said.
Lawmakers voted last year to allow $20 scratch tickets, which hit the market in October. The state expected to sell $10 million worth of the tickets by June 30, when the fiscal year ends, Wisler said. But in less than six months, New Hampshire has already sold $12 million worth of the tickets.
It's unknown what the top prize on a $30 ticket would be. But the prospect of a bigger jackpot is what makes a $30 ticket more attractive than three $10 tickets to some lottery players, Wisler said.
The bill would also allow the lottery to raise the prize restriction on the Tri-State games, which has a 50-percent payout cap. Sales of the Tri-State games, such as Megabucks, have been slumping, he said.
"It's just like any other consumer product," Wisler said. "If you don't improve it and enhance it over time, sales are going to decline."