TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Florida Lottery ticket sales were $314 million above projections in the first half of the current fiscal year, but state economists anticipate a “pandemic-related” surge in sales to ease.

A panel known as the Revenue Estimating Conference bumped up projected ticket sales from $8.41 billion to $8.95 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which ends June 30, according to a report posted this week.

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But overall, the economists anticipate ticket sales will be lower this fiscal year than last year, as people with discretionary money find other forms of entertainment.

The forecast anticipates a $121.8 million decline in overall ticket sales this year and sales to be down an additional $51 million during the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which will start July 1. After that, “ticket sales for each year will grow between 1.1 to 2.2 percent, largely driven by population growth,” the report said.

As COVID-19 pummeled the state in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the lottery set a record of $9.076 billion in sales. The sales total is expected to drop to about $8.954 billion this year, according to the new forecast. The 2020-2021 total was bolstered by $6.8 billion in scratch-off ticket sales, according to the agency in August.

The new forecast for the 2021-2022 fiscal year got a boost from higher-than-expected sales of scratch-off tickets and Powerball tickets, which were aided by two large jackpots.

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This week the Florida Lottery marked its 34th year of operation.

Since 1988, a portion of every lottery ticket sold has gone to Florida schools and students.

Since its inception, the Florida Lottery has contributed more than $40 billion to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, including more than $1 billion annually for each of the past 20 consecutive years. During its fiscal 2020-2021 year, it exceeded $2 billion, shattering all previous fiscal year records.

The Florida Lottery is also the primary funding source for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. It has enabled more than 917,000 students to attend college since the program’s inception in 1997.

CBS4 is your official Florida Lottery station.

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