When the Virginia Lottery sold its first ticket on September 20, 1988, there was excitement and anticipation, but also uncertainty. There was no guarantee that a lottery in Virginia was going to succeed and benefit the Commonwealth.
But succeeded it has. In the sixteen years since the first ticket was sold, the Virginia Lottery has sold $14.3 billion in tickets and turned over more than $4.9 billion to the Commonwealth.
Since 1999, Virginia Lottery revenues have gone directly to public education in the Commonwealth, kindergarten through 12th grade. In the year 2000, more than 80% of Virginia voters said yes to a Constitutional Amendment which created the State Lottery Proceeds Fund, which requires that all Virginia Lottery profits be used solely for educational purposes.
Match 3, the first scratch game available on the Lottery's first day of sales, has multiplied into more than sixty scratch games each year and five on-line games, including Mega Millions, the popular and successful multi-state jackpot game. Players have won more than $7.7 billion in prizes over the past sixteen years, and the Lottery's retail partners across the Commonwealth have earned more than $780 million in commissions.
Fiscal year 2001 was the first year in which the Virginia Lottery joined the "Billion Dollar Club" of U. S. lotteries, exceeding $1 billion in sales for the year. Each year since then, now four consecutive years, the Virginia Lottery has retained its membership in the elite club.
"Sixteen years of the Virginia Lottery have translated into sixteen years of fun and excitement," said Penelope W. Kyle, the Lottery's Executive Director. "But more importantly, it has meant sixteen years in which the Lottery has made a positive financial contribution to the Commonwealth." In fiscal year 2004, the Virginia Lottery was able to turn over to Virginia's public schools more than $408 million, another record and the first time reaching the $400 million mark in revenues. "All Virginians can take pride in the amount the Lottery is providing for public education, whether or not they play the Lottery," said Kyle.
Even more surprisingly, at the same time the Virginia Lottery continues to set record highs in sales and profits, it is also continuing to set record lows in administrative costs. In FY04, the new record was set at just 5.4% of sales. Since its inception, the Lottery has also turned over more than $132.2 million in unclaimed prizes for the state Literary Fund and almost $11.4 million for the state's Set-Off Debt Collection Act.
The Virginia Lottery's first sixteen years have produced winners of prizes such as jeeps, Harley motorcycles, Ford trucks, Corvette convertibles, million-dollar cash prizes, and even the third largest prize ever awarded to a single ticket in U.S. lottery history -- a $239 million Mega Millions jackpot prize to a couple from Winchester.
Kyle says, "If you think the first sixteen years were exciting, just wait to see what's in store for the next sixteen!"