While the view from Maryland's treasury building may be gloomy in almost every other direction, the skies over the state Lottery Agency are sunny.
Lottery officials reported today that sales of lottery tickets were up more than $19.5 million through the first seven months of the 1991 fiscal year, a jump of 4.3 percent.
After prize winners, lottery agents and employees take their cut, the state can claim almost $6.3 million in added revenues, an increase of 3.3 percent.
Lottery spokesman Carroll H. Hynson Jr. said Marylanders are buying more lottery tickets, despite the recession, because "it's a form of recreation."
"Even when the economy is down, and people don't have a lot of money, they still must be entertained," he said. "It may be a dream for a lot of them but, on other hand, a lot of people have won and made that dream come true."
Hynson also credited the visibility of the agency's new "It could be you" advertising campaign and its new aggressiveness in developing and promoting its games.
"We will continue to be very aggressive and competitive, and we will maintain a monitoring, as far as what players really want," Hynson said.
Sales of almost all lottery games were up, with the lone exception of Lotto, which apparently is being eclipsed by the new Winners Take All game. The biggest winner has been the Pick 4 game, with sales up 9.3 percent over last year.
In all, lottery players spent nearly a half-billion dollars on lottery tickets from July 1990 through January 1991, Hynson said.
Sales totaled $478.8 million, up from $459.3 million for the same period in fiscal 1990.
The state treasury's "cut" of the action was $197.5 million, up from $191.2 million.
The amount paid back to players in the form of cash prizes and jackpots totaled $242.3 million through January, up $11.1 million, or 4.8 percent.
The biggest gains were made in the Pick 4 game, where sales jumped $7.3 million, or 9.3 percent. Players bought $85.7 million in Pick 4 tickets, up from $78.4 million in the same period last year.
Maryland's most popular lottery game, by far, remained the Pick 3 game. Sales of Pick 3 tickets totaled $239 million, up 2.6 percent from the $233 million sold during the first seven months of 1990.
Sales of the state's many instant games increased barely 1.5 percent, from $60.8 million last year to $61.7 million this year.
Lotto ticket sales declined almost $9.6 million, or nearly 11 percent, from $87.1 million last year to $77.5 million this year.
Hynson blamed a scarcity of large jackpot rollovers, plus a drain of players' dollars to the Tuesday night Winners Take All drawing, which was inaugurated last May.
The Winners Take All game sold $14.8 million during the first seven months of fiscal 1991.
Added to the sales of Lotto tickets during the same period, however, the total comes to $92.3 million, an increase of $5.2 million, or 6 percent, over the sales of Lotto tickets alone in the first seven months of fiscal 1990.
Table shows Maryland lottery revenues and payouts during the first six months of Fiscal 1991 and 1990. The Winners Take All game was new in Fiscal 1991.
Game. . . .. . . 1990. . . . . 1991. . . .. . Change
Pick 3. . . . . .232,951,893. .238,971,801... 2.6%
Pick 4. . . . .. 78,439,973... 85,740,250... . 9.3%
Instant games. .. 60,807,000. . 61,749,174... . 1.5%
Lotto. . . . . .. 87,097,291. . 77,525,897... -11.0%
Winners Take All. . . . . NA. . 14,817,672. . . NA
Total sales. . . 459,296,157. .478,804,794. . . 4.3%
Prizes. . . . .. 231,145,656. .242,294,823. . . 5.8%
Net revenue. . . 191,239,667. .197,507,871. . . 3.3%
Source: State Lottery Agency