Despite an uncertain economy, many closed stores and fallout from the coronavirus for part of the year, the Virginia Lottery still recorded its third-best year in Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), which ended June 30.
The Lottery generated more than $595 million in profits for the year, all of which, by law, goes to benefit K-12 public education in the Commonwealth. That’s the third-highest amount in the Lottery’s 32-year history. It averages out to more than $1.6 million per day raised by the Lottery for Virginia’s K-12 public schools.
In numbers released today by the Lottery and confirmed by the Auditor of Public Accounts, total sales for the year topped $2.15 billion.
“In a challenging year, the Virginia Lottery rose to the occasion with new technology, new types of games, and new ways of engaging with consumers,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall. “At a time when the gaming environment in Virginia is changing and expanding as never before, the Lottery continues to lead the way with integrity, solid business practices and innovation – all to benefit K-12 education in Virginia.”
Public schools were not the only big winners for the year. Virginia Lottery players won more than $1.3 billion in prizes. In addition, retailers who sell Virginia Lottery games earned more than $120 million in sales commissions. The Lottery partners with some 5,300 retailers across Virginia.
The strong showing by the Lottery was made even more impressive by the fact that there was no unusually large, headline-grabbing Mega Millions or Powerball jackpot during the year to drive sales. Instead, Scratcher ticket sales accounted for $1.16 billion in sales, more than half of the Lottery’s total sales for FY20.
The biggest single win of the year was a Haymarket man, who won the $10 million top prize when he bought an Extreme Millions Scratcher ticket in Manassas. That was one of 39 wins of $1 million or more during the year. Roughly 61 cents of each dollar spent on lottery tickets in Virginia goes right back to customers in the form of prizes.
Approximately $14 million in prize money went unclaimed during the year. Most of that was in small prizes, although two Cash 5 tickets, each worth $100,000, also went unclaimed. By law, unclaimed prizes go to Virginia’s Literary Fund, which provides low interest loans to localities for public school construction, renovations and technology upgrades.
Lottery profits make up about 10 percent of Virginia’s total K-12 education budget. Some of the programs funded in part by Lottery profits include child nutrition programs, early reading intervention and career education initiatives.
Operating expenses for the Lottery were kept down to just 5.4 percent of sales, well below the limit set by law. This is significant because no tax dollars go towards running the Lottery. Instead, the Lottery operates entirely on revenue from the sale of tickets.
Along with generating funds for education, the Virginia Lottery continued its acclaimed Thank a Teacher campaign in FY20. During Teacher Appreciation Week, digital thank-you cards featuring artwork created by Virginia students were sent to more than 6,000 K-12 public school teachers.
Also in FY20, the Lottery’s Play Responsibly campaign was recognized with certification in a joint program by the National Council on Problem Gambling and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.
“We take pride in presenting our products ethically and responsibly,” said Virginia Lottery Board Chairman Ferhan Hamid. “Working to raise awareness of problem gambling and gambling addiction is an important part of our consumer focus.”
The coming year is bringing new initiatives, games and technologies, including the sale of many lottery products online, Keno and more. In addition, the Virginia Lottery Board has been tasked by the General Assembly to oversee and license newly legalized casino and sports betting across the Commonwealth.