New Hampshire lottery players clearly have an itch to scratch.
The lottery reported $16.9 million in instant ticket sales for March, a record for a non-holiday month.
The old record for a non-holiday month stood exactly six years. It was March 2007 when the lottery collected $16.6 million from instant games.
“March was a great month for lottery ticket sales and an exceptional month for the state of New Hampshire as robust instant ticket sales translated into increased revenue for education,” executive director Charlie McIntyre said in announcing the record.
If New Hampshire keeps up the current sales pace, it could be a record year.
Scratch ticket sales are running 11 percent ahead of last fiscal year, lottery officials said.
Lottery spokesman Maura McCann credited bigger prizes, new games and a 10 percent sales commission to lottery agents as factors driving the increase.
“We have increased prize payouts for players and we’ve freshened up our product line by launching new games at the beginning of every month — both of which are getting great feedback from players,” McCann said.
The lottery had not compiled county figures, but McCann said the increase is across the state.
“Sales follow population,” so Rockingham County would rank among the best in the state, McCann said.
U.S. Census figures put Rockingham as New Hampshire’s second most populated county behind Hillsborough.
The lottery’s highest monthly sales record for scratch tickets is December 2006, when players spent $20 million. The lottery typically sees big numbers when people give lottery tickets for gifts in December.
Jeff Casale of Lawrence, buying a scratch ticket in Windham yesterday at Oasis Gas and Mini Mart, said he’s not surprised people are buying more instant tickets.
“Not at all,” he said.
Casale said he plays instant games in both states, but will spend more in Massachusetts.