California Lottery Scratchers in Short Supply

COVID-19-related delays have slowed distribution of the popular tickets. 

June 26, 2020

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The coronavirus has triggered a shortage of California Lottery Scratcher tickets, which could translate into millions of lost revenue for the state, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Lottery officials say the popular tickets will stay in short supply through July at least.

Lottery ticket distribution centers put into place social distancing orders to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which meant a slower process. “We continue to ship Scratchers products from our two distribution centers in West Sacramento and Rancho Cucamonga, but there is an approximate three- to four-week delay in fulfilling orders,” said Jorge De La Cruz, a lottery spokesperson.

Scratchers, which have 57 different games, take the lion’s share of the lottery sales with 76%. “We do not have an estimate on the losses in the lottery revenues and the amount that’s directed to schools at this time,” De La Cruz said, “But the California State Lottery will continue to do everything possible to follow our mission to maximize supplemental funding for education.”

At an Albany, Calif., 7-Eleven, the store’s manager pointed to the nearly empty Scratchers display. “We’re out of everything, just about,” said Renu Sikand. “Out of 32 types of tickets, we have just five tickets left.”

Retailers around the state have told of running out of lottery tickets and not being able to order new ones. “I’ve been asking for an order to come for the last couple of weeks,” said Sikand, who usually receives a weekly delivery of scratch-off tickets. “They keep saying, ‘We’ll do it, we’ll do it,’ but they never come.”

The Scratchers shortage is only part of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the lottery. Powerball and Mega Millions saw sales plummet as much as 35% in April, while the California Lottery experienced about a 20% drop in sales.

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