State lottery sets record launch with $10.8M
Tennessee's lottery took in about $10.8 million on its first day, setting a per-capita sales record for lottery launches with nearly $2 spent for every state resident, officials said.
"It's a great day and very exciting for us,'' lottery chief Rebecca Paul said Wednesday.
Sales as of 10 p.m. Tuesday reached $1.87 for each state resident, surpassing the first-day figure of $1.83 per resident when Georgia started a lottery in 1993.
"The first day in any lottery will be the largest day for instant ticket sales for years to come,'' said Paul, who led the Georgia startup as well as a lottery launch in Florida.
The lottery, approved by voters to help pay for college scholarships and education initiatives, must raise $88 million this year to fund scholarships for some 65,000 students by the fall term.
Tuesday's sales alone will send about $3 million toward the education programs, which get about a third of all money collected, Paul said.
As of Wednesday morning, 20 people had won $1,000 from lottery scratch-off tickets. Two won $7,000, and two tickets came up with a $5,000 prize, officials said. Among the $7,000 winners was Jackson resident Jimmy Fowler, who won off of a Lucky 7s scratch-off ticket that he purchased at the Greyhound Bus Station on Tuesday afternoon.
Paul said there is no truth to rumors among some lottery players that the first batch of tickets contains more winners. She said the odds of winning something - most often a free ticket - will remain consistent, and range from 1-in-3 to 1-in-5 depending on the game played.
Paul said ticket sales were fairly even among the four games offered for the startup: Tennessee Millionaire, Tennessee Treasures, Lucky 7s and $100,000 Jackpot. She said the Lucky 7s game was a little more popular than the others, but not by enough to mark a trend.
"The folks like the games we've introduced, and as we introduce other games ... we'll be able to keep going with this type of historic volume,'' Paul said.
Lottery officials never publicly made an estimate for first-day ticket sales, although Paul had promised at least 1 million would be sold. The games easily surpassed that figure, helped by purchases from players from places like lottery-free Alabama.
Neighboring states Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia and Missouri already have state lotteries.
Minor problems encountered on the first day included long lines to buy tickets in some places, difficulty printing some checks and a little confusion over how to cash tickets, officials said.
Lottery officials said they are on target to expand the game offerings to include the online games - the pingpong ball drawings of numbers that offer the biggest prizes - in about 45 to 60 days.
About 3,500 retailers are now selling tickets, a number that could dventually grow as high as 7,500, Paul said.