Mega Millions, Washington's foray into the world of multistate lottery gambling, has been a mega-disappointment.
The state, one of 10 partners in the country's largest jackpot game, had about $51 million in sales during its first year of participation, which ended last week. That's less than half the $117 million originally projected.
Proceeds for education and school construction, originally predicted to be $32 million, turned out to be $13 million.
Lottery officials attribute the disappointing performance to the weak state economy and the difficulty of introducing the new game in direct competition with the state's Lotto Plus and other games.
"We have had challenges," lottery spokesman D. Eric Jones told The Olympian newspaper. "The game has not performed as we expected. People have been winning more often, and the jackpots have not been as high."
When lawmakers and Gov. Gary Locke approved the state's participation in Mega Millions, lottery officials assumed jackpots might average $80 million -- with an occasional eye-popping payoff. The record is $363 million. But average jackpots have been closer to $35 million, Jones said.
Lottery officials say they're examining their mix of games and may make changes to Lotto Plus or Quinto so the three main jackpot games are more distinct, Jones said.