Popular scratch-off games and a record lottery jackpot propelled the Texas Lottery to its second-highest sales during fiscal year 2004.
Unaudited sales figures of all products totaled nearly $3.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31. Fiscal year 1997 was the largest-ever sales year, with more than $3.7 billion worth of tickets sold.
"For years I've heard that the lottery's in trouble, the lottery's not delivering," said Reagan Greer, executive director of the Texas Lottery Commission. "The fact we're back to some of the highest numbers of the late 1990s, and the second highest ever, that's huge."
The sales resulted in a contribution of $1 billion to the Foundation School Fund, which helps support public education, an 11 percent increase over last year. Since 1997, the lottery has generated more than $6.6 billionto benefit public education.
The lottery paid out $2 billion in prizes, up from $1.8 billion in fiscal year 2003.
Instant tickets were by far the most popular product, accounting for more than $2.3 billion in sales. Lotto Texas sales came in at $478 million, and Cash Five accounted for $122 million.
Greer said that with 80 games and better odds than the lottery drawings, scratch-off tickets have developed "loyal followers." Instant monopoly, which debuted July 21, averaged more than $2 million per week in its first month of sales.
Adding to Lotto Texas sales was the frenzy surrounding the jackpot that grew to $145 million in June. It was the highest Texas jackpot and the second highest in U.S. history.
The figures show that changes made by the Lottery Commission in recent years are paying off.
The Powerball-style game the lottery adopted in 2003 made the odds harder to beat, allowing the higher jackpots that generate ticket sales.
Last December, Texas joined Mega Millions, a multistate lottery. It registered sales of $190 million.
Greer said 63 Texans have won the second tier of Mega Millions, but no one has hit the jackpot. He said when a Texan does win, sales will take off.
The state also received $41 million from the unclaimed prize fund. That money is split between the general revenue fund and indigent health care.
The Texas Lottery ranks third in North America, behind New York and Massachusetts.
Lottery players won more than $2 billion in prizes during fiscal year 2004. The total payout for each game was:
- Instants: $1.5 billion
- Lotto Texas: $248 million
- Texas Two Step: $24 million
- Cash Five: $61 million
- Pick 3: $132 million
- Mega Millions: $95 million
- Megaplier: $19 million