Regi test: As scratch ticket sales stagnate, Lottery leaders double down on online sales push

BOSTON — Through the first five months of the fiscal year, the Massachusetts Lottery has sold $11.5 million less of its scratch tickets and draw games than the same period last fiscal year, executive director Michael Sweeney said, and that year-to-date deficit is expected to grow.

Through November, the Lottery has taken in $2.195 billion in sales, $11.5 million or 0.5 percent less than the $2.2065 billion in sales in the first five months of the previous fiscal year.

That $11.5 million deficit over the previous year will likely expand, Sweeney said, because the monthly sales reports for January and February will be compared to those months last fiscal year that included sales for the historic $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot.

“Unfortunately, unless something happens with Powerball over the next two months I’m expecting this to grow because you’re going to start to see last year’s Powerball factor really start to kick in over the next two or three months,” he told the Lottery Commission Tuesday morning, Dec. 20.

As scratch ticket sales stagnate, Lottery leaders double down on online sales push

BOSTON — Through the first five months of the fiscal year, the Massachusetts Lottery has sold $11.5 million less of its scratch tickets and draw games than the same period last fiscal year, executive director Michael Sweeney said, and that year-to-date deficit is expected to grow.

Through November, the Lottery has taken in $2.195 billion in sales, $11.5 million or 0.5 percent less than the $2.2065 billion in sales in the first five months of the previous fiscal year.

That $11.5 million deficit over the previous year will likely expand, Sweeney said, because the monthly sales reports for January and February will be compared to those months last fiscal year that included sales for the historic $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot.

“Unfortunately, unless something happens with Powerball over the next two months I’m expecting this to grow because you’re going to start to see last year’s Powerball factor really start to kick in over the next two or three months,” he told the Lottery Commission Tuesday morning, Dec. 20.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 121]: Maura Healey, what a doll!

Our fair Massachusetts Attorney General lady is no wallflower, that’s for sure. Assault weapons, corporate corruption, saving the environment: she continues to have her say on the big topics — and nobody even needs to ask!

She’s a firecracker, that Maura Healey. Imagine if you could package all that ambition into a gift for the holidays?

Ah, but you don’t have to — that’s what Hitch is here for. Check it out.

Kanjia: Why Gambia’s president may refuse to leave despite election loss

The Gambia had been ruled by Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, who served initially as prime minister then as the republic’s first president, for more than 30 years.

Augustine Kanjia

The country’s main political party was the People’s Progressive Party [PPP]. From the mid-1960s to the early ’90s the country was relatively quite stable and citizens accepted the status quo. Gambians were very proud of their country and had no will for political change. Peace was plentiful. The country was safe.

But since the July 1994 overthrow of Jawara — the legitimate president, re-elected in 1992 — by then army Lt. Yahya Jammeh, the country has become confused, more corrupt and paralyzed by one person.

The nation recently conducted an election which, as usual, Jammeh was expected to win easily — his confidence in winning again this time likely stemmed from the fact he’d jailed his main opposition, Oinou Darboeusa, for protesting on the street before the election. In fact, President Jammeh was accused, regularly, of rigging elections (including by Darboe, who’d lost to Jammeh in 2011).

Jammeh got the surprise of his life after the Dec. 1 general elections. He at first congratulated his opponent, Adama Barrow, and offered advice, but Jammeh later changed his mind and has since refused to hand over the presidency. The struggle continues.

Courtesy Augustine Kanjia

Gambia’s first president, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara

Augustine Kanjia, who spent years uncovering corruption as a refugee journalist in Gambia during Jammeh’s rule, examines what Jammeh might be thinking, what’s next for the West African nation, and how America’s electoral issues pale in comparison to those in Gambia.

The people of Gambia for 22 years have been living in fear under President Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, who has earned the title Dictator. Who dares to talk loud where one is never sure if the person next to you is a government informant? Year after year, Gambians have become more fearful of Jammeh. When his name is heard on the streets, many look over their shoulders.

Stearns Tavern

Editorial: In praise of a community that came to the rescue

It’s right there at 140 Mill St., on the corner of Mill and Coes. It’s large by comparison, but does not look out of place.

It’s surrounded by fence and retains visible scars from its most recent ordeal.

In a few years time, when the Stearns Tavern is the centerpiece of a city park, we suspect and fear the details of how the historic building was saved from destruction may become just a footnote. This would be a shame.

While the continued development of downtown Worcester has garnered much well-deserved recognition this year, we believe the effort to save Stearns Tavern merits more attention, truly showcasing community at its best.

Hidden Gem: Eggroll Lady & Fish Shack

Visiting the Eggroll Lady for lunch or dinner is like dropping by your grandmother’s house — it’s filled with laughter, comfort food and tradition. The sweet (egg roll) lady in the kitchen doesn’t worry about how much money she makes, but instead focuses on the quality of her foods and the love with which she makes them. Giselle Rivera-Flores takes a closer look.

PCBs: Where Worcester delayed, Princeton was decisive

Indignant at potentially exposing town residents and workers to PCBs through no fault of their own, Princeton officials wanted payback. They decided they would go for it in the form of a lawsuit directed at Old Monsanto, the company that made virtually all of the potential human carcinogen (98 percent, according to the lawsuit). To do so, they hired a heavy hitter in the environmental field: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Richard Nangle reports.

Worcester Windows painting

Inbox [Dec. 21]: New Worcester Windows exhibits on display, Holy Cross ranks with top-value colleges, Anna Maria students plan volunteer work, Naughton named to anti-nuclear weapons panel

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about. 

Worcester Windows Winter Exhibits on display

The Worcester Cultural Coalition is pleased to announce two Worcester Windows Winter exhibits are on display. “Worcester City Hall and Common” is located at the Community Gallery in the basement level of City Hall, 455 Main St. “Let There be Light” is located at Bay State Savings Bank, 28 Franklin St. Both are free and open to the public.

Worcester Windows is a community gallery program that uses storefronts throughout downtown Worcester as exhibit space to enhance the City’s downtown area. In addition, Worcester Windows provides display opportunities for local emerging and established artists.

Stearns Tavern

Worcester Sun, Dec. 21: Stearns Tavern effort is a moving lesson, Healey’s a real doll + much more

As scratch ticket sales stagnate, Lottery leaders double down on online sales push
Through the first five months of the fiscal year scratch ticket sales — which account for 70 percent of the Lottery’s total — were down $43.5 million or about 3 percent. “Instant tickets is our biggest revenue driver,” the state Lottery director said. “There simply is not another engine that’s as dependable [or] predictable.”

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 121]: Maura Healey, what a doll! Our fair Massachusetts Attorney General lady is no wallflower, that’s for sure.

Mariano: Flag burning is a very emotional issue

Editor’s note: Please continue to enjoy this free preview of the Sun’s newest feature, and be sure to check back in coming weeks to find out how you can keep on reading Worcester’s best commentary without becoming a Sun member when the preview ends.

Ray Mariano

Ray Mariano

Growing up in the turbulent 1960s and ’70s, protests, some involving flag burning, occurred with some frequency. At that time, people felt their government leaders were lying to them. They were angry and their emotions were boiling over.

I was never comfortable with burning the American flag. Even as a young protester, burning the flag seemed the exact opposite of the point we were trying to make.

Most of us were saying that we loved our country and it was because we loved it that we expected more from our leaders. I always thought that we should have raised the flag high and let leaders know that this was OUR country.

As a young elected official, I remember being confronted with the issue. As the City Council was considering whether to pass some sort of law prohibiting flag burning, I turned to my dad for advice.