SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Lottery is expanding the options players have to buy certain tickets without leaving the house after the General Assembly passed a law allowing them to do so earlier this year. 

House Bill 3661, which became law on June 28, allowed the Lottery to sell single-draw tickets for the Pick 3, Pick 4 and Lucky Day draw games on Illinoislottery.com and their Illinois Lottery Official Mobile App. Previously, these games were available only through a subscription of a minimum of one week’s worth of tickets.

These games join Mega Millions, Powerball and Lotto as available for single-draw sales.

Jason Schaumburg, communications director for the Illinois Lottery, said the Lottery expects the new features to contribute almost 12 percent of the department’s sales growth target for the year.

“The ability to purchase single-draw tickets for Pick 3, Pick 4 and Lucky Day Lotto was introduced earlier this month (Aug.12),” he said in an email. “Average daily sales across the three games is up 20 percent compared to the three weeks before single draw of Pick 3, Pick 4 and Lucky Day Lotto was introduced online.”

Schaumburg said total sales for the Lottery were $2.93 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $2.84 billion in fiscal year 2017, the last two audited fiscal years. In those fiscal years, the Lottery transferred $722.5 million and $732.7 million to state coffers respectively, with the rest of the money going to pay prizes to players, commissions to retailers and operational expenses.

Schaumburg said the profit margin is slightly higher for online sales as opposed to retail sales because the bank fees the state pays for online sales are cheaper than the commissions paid to retailers, but he did not expect retailers to be negatively affected by the expansion of the online platform.

Retailers receive a 5 percent commission on all tickets sold and a 1 percent winning-ticket selling bonus for all winning tickets sold with a value of $1,000 or greater. They also receive a 1 percent bonus for any prizes they pay to a player in-store up to $600.

Schaumburg said those commissions and bonuses do not apply if a ticket is sold online because the transaction did not occur in a store.

Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said the organization didn’t view the online expansion as one that would sap business from storefronts, because the online sales are expected to reach different players and do not apply to instant games.

Schaumburg agreed and said the Lottery has not seen retail sales falter because of online offerings.

“We haven’t seen that to be the case. The Lottery’s digital program is meant to compliment the retail program,” he said. “Efforts to grow the business online are rooted in the desire to offer players (new and old) an additional way to engage with us, not in converting existing players from retail players to digital players.”

While instant game tickets will still be available only at participating retailers, players can use their mobile app to scan an instant ticket to see if it’s a winner.

According to a news release, players have executed more than 1.5 million ticket scans through the mobile app since it was launched in February. 

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com