Report: Stimulus checks boosted South Carolina lottery revenue. Did you buy a ticket?

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South Carolina Education Lottery scatch-off lottery tickets are displayed on the counter at the Exxon Station on Blossom Street Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005, in Columbia, S.C. A Charleston County man filed a lawsuit against the state lottery for fraud, claiming unethical advertising caused him to buy scratch-off lottery tickets for prizes already won by someone else. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolinians tried their luck with their first round of stimulus checks, according to data from the South Carolina Lottery Commission. 

The report, detailing the 2020 fiscal year — which ended on June 20, 2020 — gives a snapshot into how the first $1,200 payments boosted lottery revenue in a year that was hit by the impact that small jackpots had on sales.

“Whereas it is impossible to measure the exact effect of the federal stimulus on the Commission’s Q4 results, management believes that the effect was significant” and that without the checks, the revenues would have decreased, according to the report, which also notes that “a decrease in future revenues is possible.”

Overall, the South Carolina Education Lottery’s revenue reached $2.11 billion during the 2021 fiscal year, an increase of 6.3% from the previous year. Revenue from Instant Ticket increased by 9.1%, which the report credits to the rising popularity of the $10 Instant Game. The $3 and $5 Instant Game revenues also went up by 19.7% and 4.2%.

Terminal Game revenues decreased by 1.2%, which the report attributes to a lack of “significant Jackpot Runs” compared to 2019. 

During the fourth quarter, when stimulus checks were distributed, Instant Game revenue increased by 21.75%, when it had been at 4.5% during the previous nine months. Terminal Game revenues — except for Powerball and Mega Millions — increased by 28.55%, compared to 11.73% during the rest of the year. 

The lottery has funded more than $5.4 billion for higher education programs, including $4.6 billion for scholarships and grants. More than $1 billion from its revenues have gone toward K-12 programs, and $52 million has been used on community education programs.

In Horry County, $30 million in lottery revenue has gone toward K-12 programs, $188.9 million has been used on scholarships and $1.3 million has been spent on libraries.

The impacts of the second and third round of stimulus payments would be in the 2021 fiscal year, and therefore haven’t been publicly released.

A spokesperson for the South Carolina Education Lottery did not respond to requests for comment on the first stimulus package’s impacts on the lottery, or if it has seen a similar boost in the second and third rounds of payments.

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