In the 2023 fiscal year, multiple records were shattered by the Virginia Lottery.
For the first time in history, Virginia Lottery sales sped past the $4 billion mark and kept going until sales topped out at a record-high of $4.6 billion. That led to a record $867 million in profits, which all went to education in the state. Lottery players in Virginia won $3.4 billion in FY 2023, another record.
Even more encouraging is that the 2024 fiscal year looks like it could be even stronger.
Virginia Lottery aided by massive Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots
Not in any of the previous 35 years had the lottery enjoyed as much success as during the last year. It was largely because of historic jackpots for both Mega Millions and Powerball, but there were few other reasons.
One factor contributing to its massive success is certainly the fact that the Virginia Lottery is online. It is one of the few states that offers its lottery games online, including instant-win games, which alone generated $2 billion in sales in FY 2023.
Along with an online platform, the lottery recently unveiled a new feature that makes life easier for its players. There is now a mobile ticket cashing option that allows winners to scan their tickets up to $5,000. Prizes are then deposited into their online lottery account via the Virginia Lottery mobile app.
The $867 million for K-12 education comes in addition to over $10.3 million in taxes contributed from casino gambling in Virginia and another $3.9 million in taxes from sports wagering. The Virginia betting market is as strong as ever, which is leading to incredible benefits for the state.
A few other Virginia Lottery statistics in FY 2023:
- $137 million in commissions made by retailers
- $195 million in operating expenses
- $12.6 million in unclaimed prizes for the Literary Fund
- $8 million collected for debt set-off
- $156.7 million Powerball jackpot was the largest prize won in Virginia
The Virginia Lottery credits its historic fiscal year to a few different things besides online sales. Multiple new game offerings certainly helped, as did word of mouth as players continued to win on the way to the record for most prizes paid out.
Almost 5,300 businesses, many of them mom-and-pop stores, in the Commonwealth sell lottery tickets, which led to over $137 million in sales commissions and bonuses.
Powerball and Mega Millions jackpot excitement helped shatter records
In FY 2023, there were three different jackpots worth over $1 billion between Mega Millions and Powerball.
One person in Ashburn won $1 million from the Aug. 9 Powerball. Another 194,000 winning lotto tickets were purchased as people began to chase the Mega Millions Aug. 9 jackpot, which reached $1.58 billion. Eventually, the winning ticket was purchased in Florida.
According to Fox 5, as the Mega Millions jackpot continued to climb, ticket sales increased, which led to an estimated $31.1 million of profits from that single jackpot.
The same happened with an earlier Powerball jackpot, which resulted in $22 million for schools during its 38 drawings. It was $4 million more than originally estimated, an increase of about 20%.
Education in Virginia benefits from record Lottery sales
Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kelly T. Gee told Fox 5 that these massive numbers are great for the state.
“The Lottery’s business is all about games and excitement, but we also support an important mission: generating funds for our K-12 public education. The unprecedented success we saw in Fiscal Year 2023 is positive news for all Virginians, regardless of whether they choose to play Lottery games.”
In total, the $867 million contributed to the public education system in FY 2023 was a 10% increase from the $779.6 million contributed in 2022. Since 1989, over $15.5 billion has been generated for K-12 schools in Virginia through the lottery.
Jennifer Mullen, director of communications and customer relations for the Virginia Lottery, told PlayVirginia that Lottery workers also get jazzed by big lottery jackpots because of what it means for the K-12 public schools in Virginia.
“When the jackpots get really big, it’s exciting for players. But it’s also really exciting for us at the Virginia Lottery because it means we’re generating more profits for our K-12 public schools.”
Mullen said Lottery money serves several educational purposes.
- Reduce class sizes
- School breakfasts for kids
- Early reading intervention
- Special education
- Individual student alternative education programs
Any unclaimed winnings from the Virginia Lottery are sent to the Literary Fund, which provides low-interest loans for public schools to renovate, upgrade technology and for construction needs.
This could just be the beginning. Mullen told PlayVirginia that FY 2024 is already off to a great start. The Virginia Lottery is currently selling $2 Mega Millions tickets at a rate of 2,300 per minute at peak times.