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Virginia Lottery sales top $1 billion for fifth straight year

Apr 13, 2005, 10:18 am

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Virginia Lottery

Virginia Lottery sales have increased even as competition looms in neighboring states, lottery officials announced Tuesday.

Lottery sales surpassed the $1 billion mark on April 6, compared to April 20 last year, said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Penelope Kyle. Lottery sales stood at $1.02 billion Monday, she said.

Lottery officials forecast sales to top out at $1.35 billion by the end of the fiscal year, in June.

Kyle attributed the upward trend to brisk sales of scratch-off tickets and big jackpots that lure players from other states. Tuesday's current estimated jackpot for the Mega Millions was $120 million.

For thousands of teachers and students statewide, the increased sales signal a financial boost.

Lottery officials typically turn over about 32 percent of annual revenue to Virginia public schools. Last July, lottery officials gave $408 million, their largest amount ever.

"Now that we are beyond a billion (dollars) in sales, we are exceeding $400 million in what we give to public schools," Kyle said. And she said while projections aren't available, "We certainly hope we will exceed $408 million" given to education.

But Virginia's lottery soon could get even more competition.

North Carolina legislators are working to approve a state lottery. They've been the last lottery holdout among neighboring states.

Still, she said the state's fledgling lottery would have to start out small and could hardly compete with the 17-year-old Virginia lottery with its 70-plus scratch-off games.

"Every lottery around us is a competition," Kyle said. "If North Carolina adopts a lottery, we'll just compete with them, too."

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