As Mega Millions Jackpot Grows To $650 Million, New York Lottery Scoring Huge For Local Schools And Businesses

Eric Raskin

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statue of liberty new york

The weekend came and went without any lucky lottery players winning the Mega Millions grand prize, meaning Tuesday night’s drawing will see the jackpot reach an estimated $650 million.

But that’s not the only massive dollar amount worth celebrating. The New York State Gaming Commission shared its latest numbers at the conclusion of February, and they show that the Empire State continues to host “North America’s largest and most profitable” lottery.

Most notably, the jackpots for the most popular draw games in the state — Mega Millions, Powerball, and NY LOTTO — produced nearly $64 million for public schools and small businesses in the first two months of 2024.

Public schools have benefited to the tune of $55 million, which breaks down as $23.8 million from Mega Millions, $17.8 million from Powerball, and $13.4 million from NY LOTTO. Lottery retailers — mostly small businesses — have enjoyed the remaining $8.9 million in proceeds from the three games.

Winners come in all forms

“Multiple massive jackpots mean more opportunities to win life-changing money while benefiting New York’s public schools,” Chairman Brian O’Dwyer said in the Gaming Commission release. “Even if a New York player’s numbers don’t get called, every ticket purchase is a win for New York State’s taxpayers and businesses.” 

And when nobody’s numbers get called, the jackpots grow — gradually enhancing the expected value of each ticket purchase. In the case of Mega Millions, the jackpot last hit on Dec. 8. Since then, 24 straight drawings (every Tuesday and Friday) have failed to produce a winner, allowing the jackpot to keep expanding to the $650 million at which it now stands.

Last August, an all-time Mega Millions record jackpot of $1.602 billion (a little under $800 million as a lump-sum payment) was claimed with a ticket purchased in Neptune Beach, Florida.

New York tops for proceeds, but …

As a state with a population just shy of 20 million, it makes sense that New York would be leading the way on raw revenue.

But on a per capita basis, it was Massachusetts — population approximately 7 million — that was found in 2022 research to have the most appetite for lottery purchases. The data showed annual lottery spending in the state of $1,024.91 per resident, nearly 3.2 times higher than the national average of $320.42.

To quote a noted Bostonian: How do you like them apples?

Still, it’s the Big Apple that delivers the most juice — and not just in terms of the lottery.

Since online sports betting launched in the state in January 2022, New York has dominated in terms of wagering handle, revenue, and especially tax revenue due to its 51% tax rate.

In 2023, New York sportsbooks took $19.2 billion in bets, producing $1.7 billion in operator revenue, of which $863 million went to the state in taxes.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. is continuing in his efforts to legalize online casino gaming in New York, and industry experts project that the state would quickly leap to the top of the list in monthly revenue in that vertical if and when it becomes regulated.