The D.C. Lottery is in the money, with a record-setting profit of $237.3 million for fiscal 2003, officials said.
"We have had an exciting year. These are the highest numbers the lottery has made since its inception in 1982," said Jeanette Michael, executive director of the D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Board.
Lottery officials credited the record profit on new games, new players and newly enthused ticket agents.
The D.C. Lottery has had fluctuating profits over the past two years due to the slow economy, low post-September 11 tourist numbers and the closing of the city's biggest ticket agent near the mail-processing center on Brentwood Road NE.
"People do not realize that terrorism and the anthrax scare really hurt lottery sales," said lottery spokesman Bob Hainey. "Many of our agents lost business because people were afraid to come to the District not to mention that our most profitable ticket agent, located by the Brentwood Post Office, was virtually shut down during the anthrax scare."
The Brentwood Road mail facility was closed in October 2001 after anthrax-laced letters had been sorted there. Five persons, including two postal workers who worked at the facility, died of inhalation anthrax.
The facility has since been decontaminated and is expected to reopen, according to U.S. Postal Service officials.
Lottery officials have focused on encouraging merchants and ticket agents to sell more tickets by offering them incentives, like free vacations and cash. Merchants also have received instant ticket vending machines and training in sales.
The D.C. Lottery turns over nearly 33 percent of its profits to the city's general fund, 52 percent is awarded as prizes, and the remaining money pays for operating expenses, officials said.
"We have helped local charities raise over $5 million," Mr. Hainey said, explaining that the Charitable Games Division also had a successful year in 2003.