top of page

Sixty Years Strong

America’s first modern lottery, the New Hampshire Lottery is celebrating 60 years in 2024, and continues to defy the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

By Patricia McQueen

March 21, 2024

NASPL Insights Online

It’s a good bet that after 60 years, the country’s first modern state-run lottery is nothing like its founders could have ever imagined. After all, when the New Hampshire Sweepstakes was established in 1964, results were based on a horse race. Winning may not be tied to Thoroughbreds anymore, but there is one thing for sure former State Representative Laurence “Larry” Pickett would be proud of – the more than $2.65 billion in revenues the New Hampshire Lottery has raised for education since its inception.

Pickett had tried and failed five times to get a lottery started, and it was likely only when he earmarked profits for education that he finally sealed the deal. The New Hampshire Sweepstakes, as the New Hampshire Lottery was originally known, was officially born on March 12, 1964, when the first $3 Sweepstakes tickets went on sale. The first running of the New Hampshire Sweepstakes horse race took place at Rockingham Park on September 12. It was a big deal! Six lucky ticket holders matched with the winning horse, with each winning $100,000. It was lucrative for the horsemen too – for them, the race was worth almost as much as the Kentucky Derby that year.



Sixty years later, it’s unthinkable that anyone would wait six months to see if their ticket was a winner. Today, many people don’t want to wait six hours or even six minutes. Today’s New Hampshire Lottery gives players plenty of choices, from instant games (at retail or online) and Fast Play, to KENO 603, daily numbers and lotto games. And perhaps coming full circle, today’s New Hampshire Lottery players can even bet on sports (not yet including horse racing, however).


Better still, today’s New Hampshire Lottery is among the industry leaders in many ways, producing more Powerball sales per capita than any other jurisdiction, and ranking second in per capita sales of Mega Millions. Among newer products, New Hampshire ranked first in per capita iLottery gross gaming revenue in the past fiscal year, and is competitive at the top in per capita revenues from sports betting as well.

So, what’s the secret to teaching an old dog new tricks?


“We are the oldest lottery,” says Executive Director Charlie McIntyre. “We just don’t want to look like it!” He emphasizes that everyone talks about “modernization,” yet for New Hampshire, it’s more about “digitization” – relating to customers from the customer point of view. “That’s the fundamental belief system we live by. We have to be relevant to the player base in every aspect and with every player. And make sure we don’t ignore the player base that has been loyal to us forever, while also reaching a player base that never even looked at us because they were on their phones playing Candy Crush. Now they are on their phone playing with us.”

“The player doesn’t look at it as ‘iLottery’ and ‘retail’ – it’s just ‘the lottery.’” – Kelley-Jaye Cleland


Digitization in New Hampshire includes several elements. One of the Lottery’s biggest current initiatives is a new Retail Rewards program that will be linked to in-app play (the current mobile app doesn’t have a native online play module). The rewards program is on the verge of launch, notes Chief Product and Program Officer Kelley-Jaye Cleland. And negotiations are underway for a new iLottery contract (the RFP was issued last summer) which should bring some exciting new things as well. The main goals of the new contract are to streamline the iLottery platform with full integration across the Lottery’s operations with all products. “We really want to be able to provide lottery to players wherever they are and however they want to play,” she explains. “The player doesn’t look at it as ‘iLottery’ and ‘retail’ – it’s just ‘the lottery.’”


Simultaneously, the Lottery is busy with updating and enhancing internal operational policies and procedures. “We don’t have an internal CRM,” she adds, noting the Lottery needs better insights on its customers to better assist them. There’s work going on to automate various processes, including something as basic as automating aspects of Director of Marketing Maura McCann has, for example, spearheaded a website revitalization. “We are really just looking to find efficiencies and to take the technology already being provided by our vendors and using more of that internally to better support our operations,” says Cleland.



Starting Off With a Bang

Much of this work is under the hood, and while customers will benefit from most of it, right now those customers are enjoying the Lottery’s first round of anniversary celebrations. To celebrate 60 years, the Lottery team wanted a strong start to 2024. In February, New Hampshire introduced its first full omnichannel games across three product lines. With a common High Roller casino theme and a dedicated web page showcasing the full line, they include a family of scratch tickets at $1, $2, $5 and $10, a Fast Play series at $5, $10 and $20, and an eInstant playable from 10 cents up to $30. “We know that those are really strong themes at retail and with iLottery,” explains Cleland of the High Roller brand choice. It’s a concerted effort to provide engagement across different verticals, and promo codes on the scratch tickets provide players with free iLottery plays as well.


In early March, two scratch tickets and an eInstant game made their debuts, paying homage to the Lottery’s 60 years. The $25 Diamond Jubilee uses a special sparkle printing treatment and offers prizes from $60 up to $2 million. With 34 play spots, there is significant value for players. The shiny, foil-printed $5 New Hampshire 60th Anniversary scratch ticket is loaded with $60 prizes and offers a top prize of $60,000. And the Diamond Jubilee eInstant game features a progressive Diamond Jackpot Bonus game.

That’s just a start. Coming soon is the $10 Golden Spin, a Tri-State scratch game also available in Maine and Vermont. “It’s a fantastic-looking ticket, and is the next iteration of the Big Spin,” says Cleland, adding that it offers a trip to the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, where players can win up to $250,000.



“We’ve tried to start this year off strong,” she emphasizes. “We really tried to make sure that our anniversary year aligned with a lot of big games, and make sure that we could continue to provide engagement between all of the different verticals. We want to provide something for everybody, including having lots of eInstants that provide different types of game play.”


Also coming this year is a blowout-style Fast Play game and more spotlight instant games. Cleland also expects New Hampshire to join Pennsylvania and Virginia, which launched the country’s first multi-jurisdictional eInstant game, Jackpot Spectacular, last year. She noted in just those two states, that single game accounts for almost 10% of sales across the entire eInstant industry in the U.S. “It’s impressive. For us in tiny little New Hampshire, to be able to offer such big jackpots, we know that will really drive player acquisition.”


And of course, retailers haven’t been forgotten. There are several retailer promotions coming up, with sales reps in high gear to celebrate with the Lottery’s vital partners.


The Game Portfolio

Beyond anniversary games, the Lottery has a full product line. New Hampshire is one of three members of the Tri-State Lotto Commission, a collaboration with Maine and Vermont. It was the first multi-state lottery group in the U.S. upon its formation in 1985. The previously noted Golden Spin scratch ticket is a Tri-State game; the Commission typically introduces one or two scratch games each year. On the draw side, Megabucks, Gimme 5, Pick 3 and Pick 4 are all Tri-State games. And unlike the national multi-jurisdictional games, these games are all considered “local,” no matter where a big winner pops up. “It doesn’t matter if someone in Vermont or Maine wins – the people here in New Hampshire will be happy,” explains McCann. “It’s the local game and we act together as one ‘state.’”


Gimme 5 was the first of the Tri-State games to be added to New Hampshire’s iLottery platform a couple of years ago. Megabucks was added last September with a third weekly drawing introduced at the same time; that has provided a big boost in sales. Waiting in the wings for iLottery are the Pick 3 and Pick 4 games. Another draw game, Lucky for Life, is also available online.



KENO 603 has also proven to be a success for the New Hampshire Lottery since its debut in December 2017. The establishing legislation requires local approval to offer the game in a specific city or town. To date, nearly 100 communities have approved the product. While only about 575 of the Lottery’s 1,450 retailers can offer KENO 603, it does incredibly well at those locations. “Outside of scratch tickets, KENO 603 is our biggest product, aside from periods of massive jackpot runs in Powerball and Mega Millions,” says Cleland. The game got a big boost recently when Circle K added KENO 603 at some locations. With almost 60 locations statewide, Circle K is the Lottery’s largest retailer and KENO 603 will be available in about 35 of those stores. “That’s super exciting, because we can better partner with them to get the message out.”

And of course, as in most other American jurisdictions, scratch tickets account for a significant portion of sales – exceeding 65% of combined instant and draw game sales in most recent years.

Marketing Success

Led by McCann, the Lottery’s marketing team works closely with its advertising agency, and she’s particularly enthusiastic about two programs. One involves New Hampshire’s jackpot advertising strategy. She loves the chaos that comes with giant jackpots in Powerball and Mega Millions – especially when there are dueling jackpots. While other lotteries may stop paid advertising at higher levels, that’s when New Hampshire ramps it up. “Currently we jump in at the half-billion-dollar mark, and as that jackpot grows, we add assets to support it.” Eventually, though, the media picks it up, and at that point the paid messages stop. Where that point is depends on what else is going on; it's a collaborative decision. “We are very flexible when it comes to that.”



Regardless, the jackpot strategy works. As noted, New Hampshire sells more Powerball tickets per capita than any other lottery, and is almost on top with Mega Millions. “I’m really, really proud of how we support these kind of crazy Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots that come our way,” says McCann. “You have to enjoy the chaos and be willing to pivot when you need to pivot. Our players obviously respond very well to what we do for advertising, because it shows in our ticket sales.”


Cleland says a recent marketing test with Tri-State Megabucks adds support to the theory that jackpot advertising works. Just by doing some extra messaging, including things like website popups, “we’ve seen a dramatic increase in sales.”


The other exciting marketing program, Ticket Talk, is a relatively new initiative that gives a “voice” to instant tickets. “It’s a fun way to showcase the games that we want to call out,” says McCann. “It gives the tickets themselves a kind of a face, and the ability to speak to players. That’s really been well received.” Launched about 18 months ago, Ticket Talk animates certain tickets, creating their own personalities.

There has also been a lot of success on the iLottery side, including marketing collaboration with NeoPollard Interactive. “We are still bringing in plenty of players at the top of the funnel,” McCann emphasizes, crediting all three parties with working together to develop a “sweet spot” for marketing. “Certainly our numbers indicate that we are successful compared to the other iLottery states.”

And then there’s the new Retail Rewards program. The old program required too much work on the part of the players and actually didn’t help them with some of the things players wanted to know. Retail Rewards will integrate seamlessly with the Lottery’s app, which already offers ticket scanning to determine winning tickets. “We definitely want players to get more value out of their lottery ticket purchase,” explains McCann. “Allowing them to receive points for non-winning tickets is the next iteration, and we’ll keep expanding on that. Certainly lottery is in stores across New Hampshire, but lottery is also in the palm of your hand with a mobile phone.”



Sports Betting

The Lottery's newest product line is sports betting, which launched in New Hampshire on December 30, 2019. Offered in partnership with DraftKings through an online/mobile platform and at four sportsbook locations in southern New Hampshire, sports betting has contributed more than $100 million in net profits for education in the state in just four years. “What a great product to add,” marvels McCann, adding that there are incredible promotional opportunities, like a recent event with a former Boston Bruin great, Zdeno Chára. “How fortunate we are in New England to have so many of those athletes right in our own backyard.”


That the New Hampshire Lottery was given the task of launching sports betting was never a sure thing, even though the organization regulates other gambling products in the state, like charitable gaming and pari-mutuel wagering. The latter is now limited to simulcasting. The last live races took place in 2009, and in 2015 the former Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission was disbanded and oversight shifted to the Lottery. 



McIntyre was convinced at an early stage that sports betting was inevitable. When it began with fantasy sports, he led the charge to make sure that would be under the Lottery’s umbrella. “I’ve seen so many other states have fights in the sandbox over gaming commissions vs. lottery commissions vs. horse racing commissions, and I really wanted to avoid that at all costs.” And he freely admits he didn’t know the business of sports betting nearly as well as he thought he did as a former prosecutor of cases involving organized crime. “I had to learn along the way!” And learn he did. Now, New Hampshire ranks right up there in terms of per capita revenues from sports betting. “That’s important to us – it’s kind of why we do what we do!”


He’s quite pleased that sports betting seems to be bringing in a whole new player base. “What surprised me is the lack of overlap of sports betting players and lottery players. There’s some, but it’s not as deep as you’d think. It’s really its own channel.”



Looking Ahead

For every lottery, there’s always the central challenge of keeping up with the revenue needs in their jurisdiction. “We fund about a quarter of the education budget in New Hampshire,” says McIntyre. “My primary function in life is to protect that revenue stream. I have trust in the people I work with, but I feel the pressure of it daily, weekly, monthly – it’s one decision, it’s 1,000 decisions, and you hope most of them are right.” Of course, not everything is under a lottery’s control, especially external factors such as the economy, inflation and gas prices.


That’s one reason why New Hampshire is fortunate to have so many revenue streams helping to mitigate the impact of any one product, especially the impacts of the jackpot-driven games. Fiscal year 2023 was a banner year for lottery profits across the industry, because of the extraordinary jackpot performance of both Powerball and Mega Millions, but McIntyre knows that is not easy to repeat. “As interest rates come down, those massive jackpots will come down to Earth. That will be a good thing for the long term, but a bad thing for sales in the short term.” He knows New Hampshire will still sell a lot of Powerball tickets – its status as number one per capita is a point of pride – but going forward it will be difficult without some updates in the game. “I think the pace of the game doesn’t lean into a younger marketplace, so we have to figure out something else.” To that end, he’s encouraged by continued collaborative efforts across the industry involving several multi-jurisdictional games. “We have good relationships, but we can always improve.”



Speaking of good relationships, the most critical are those with a lottery’s retail partners. Regardless of progress on the iLottery front, retailers will always be the most important sales channel. “We are very fortunate to have an incredible retailer density, better than one retailer per thousand people, and they are fantastic partners,” emphasizes Cleland. The Lottery team is working hard to better understand retailers’ current interests and needs, what trends are they facing, and where they are headed with respect to self-checkout and other solutions. That’s in advance of an RFP for a new lottery gaming system. “We know the pen-and-paper balancing on a shift basis is really hard on them. They’re challenged to keep their employees, and we as an industry have to find solid, reasonable solutions for them. We want to support them the best we can.”


Support is what it’s all about. Supporting the retailers, supporting the players, and supporting the staff. “I get to work with some of the best people you’ll ever know,” says McIntyre.

Now 60 years in, the New Hampshire Lottery today looks vastly different than the New Hampshire Sweepstakes of 1964. But the foundation remains the same. As it was on March 12, 1964, it’s all about offering players something fun and exciting – driving revenue in support of New Hampshire public education.

Related Content


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page