Fish and Boat Commission eyes lottery connection

Posted on: May 12, 2015 | Bob Frye | Comments

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission may soon team up with ,,, the Pennsylvania Lottery?

That’s right. John Arway, executive director of the commission, said staff from the two agencies have met to discuss ways to possibly partner and together sell more fishing licenses and lottery tickets. The first meeting was a preliminary get-together, so no concrete plans are in place yet.

But they do intend to meet again, and both sides are excited to about the possibilities, he said.

“I think it’s a partnership made in Heaven for us,” Arway said.

One thing that won’t likely come to pass is a commission scratch-off ticket. Arway asked about the chances of getting a fish-themed scratch-off in place for 2016, when the commission celebrates its 150th anniversary.

But Arway said he was told they’re so important to the bottom line that the Lottery can’t afford to experiment with them.

The commission has learned one thing from the Lottery already, though. It generates $8 billion annually, Arway said. Officials said they do it not by focusing on price, but value.

Price has been the commission’s point of emphasis lately. It reduced the cost of a fishing license by $1 for this year in hopes it would spark people to take up or return to fishing.

It hasn’t yet.

Bernie Matscavage, director of its bureau of administration, said license sales were actually running 31,000 behind last year’s pace going into April. But they “came on strong” after, so that by the end of the month, sales were “comparable” to last year, and 2 percent above the five-year average.

That was an important surge, he said, because the commission typically sells 60 percent of all the licenses it’s going to sell in a year by the end of April, and 75 percent by the end of May, he said. Fall behind then and it’s unlikely the commission ever makes it up, Matscavage added.

Maybe the commission needs to focus on value, Arway said. He said lottery officials told him that drives consumers.

“The more value you can add for the price you’re charging, the more participation you’re going to get,” Arway said.


Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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