Not all the news from Annapolis has been gloomy this year. Lottery players, at least, are holding up their end of the state budget.
The Maryland Lottery Agency said today the state netted $6.4 million more during the first four months of this fiscal year than during the same period last year, a gain of more than 6 percent.
By comparison, the state's total lottery revenues climbed $4.4 million in all of fiscal 1991 compared with the year before.
"We are up in net earnings as well as total sales in spite
of the recession and the economy," said lottery spokesman Carroll H. Hynson Jr. He credited the agency's "tremendous effort insofar as changing the games and being creative."
The agency introduced the new, twice-weekly Match 5 game on Oct. 7. Also, the number of lottery sales outlets across the state has increased.
Gross lottery sales from July 1 through Oct. 31 this year totaled $271.1 million, up almost $2.5 million from the same period last year, or less than 1 percent.
But the state's profit, which is set aside for the General Fund, climbed 6 percent to $110.7 million.
That means players didn't fare quite as well in the percentage of lottery money they took home. Prizes awarded by the agency in the first third of this fiscal year totaled $132.5 million, down from $133.2 million last year. Sales agents' commissions from the games remained flat at $13.6 million.
Maryland's instant, daily numbers and twice weekly Lotto and Match 5 games are the state's third-largest source of revenue, after income and sales taxes. The recent gains, however, won't replace huge losses in those broad-based taxes, which have sagged in the current recession and precipitated the state's $450 million budget crisis.