Pandemic Puts Small Dent In 2020 Virginia Lottery Sales

Written By Dann Stupp on August 19, 2020 - Last Updated on August 3, 2022

A pandemic hindered Virginia Lottery sales in the past year. However, the commonwealth’s official lottery staged a late rally as the fiscal year ended.

The VA Lottery recently announced it closed the year with more than $2 billion in total sales and more than $595 million in proceeds.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring likely cost 2020 the top spot on the all-time list.

Virginia Lottery narrowly misses sales record

Among the $2 billion-plus in 2020 lottery sales, $1.318 billion went to player prizes. That represents 61.3% of total sales. Additionally, the VA Lottery set aside $120.7 million (5.6%) for retailer compensation and $116.9 million (5.4%) for operating expenses.

The remaining $595.3 million (27.7%) was the VA Lottery’s profit for the year, which goes toward educational efforts in the Old Dominion State.

It was the third most profitable year since the Virginia Lottery launched in 1987. Additionally, total sales of $2.149 billion ranked second all-time.

In fact, total sales topped $2 billion for the fourth time in five years.

Lottery records for sales, revenue and player prizes were all set in 2019.

COVID-19 hinders spring VA Lottery sales

The Virginia Lottery’s latest fiscal year ran from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

Due to Virginia’s partial shutdown due to the coronavirus and subsequent social distancing measures, lottery sales dipped in March (down 21% compared to March 2019) and April (down 8%). However, with most casinos closed and much of the sports world forced to suspend play, sales rebounded in May and June and actually outperformed 2019’s numbers.

As Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall said:

“The final quarter of the fiscal year, the lottery was quite literally the only game in town.”

Virginia casinos and sportsbooks await

For most of its existence, Virginia Lottery proceeds have benefited K-12 education in the commonwealth. In fact, 80% of Virginians voted for the State Lottery Proceeds Fund in 2000. The fund assures that all proceeds are used solely for educational efforts.

Additionally, by law, all unclaimed Virginia Lottery prizes are earmarked for the Literary Fund. The program provides low-interest loans to Virginia localities to support construction, renovations and technology upgrades for public schools.

The lottery transferred $14 million to the Literary Fund in 2020 and $309.7 million in total since 1988.

Despite pandemic-related hurdles in 2020, the upcoming year should be a big one for the Virginia Lottery. In addition to recently expanding its online sales offerings at, the Virginia Lottery will regulate all casinos and sportsbooks in the state.

Following recent legalization, sportsbook operators are likely to come online beginning in early 2021, and casinos are expected to start opening in 2023.

“At a time when the gaming environment in Virginia is changing and expanding as never before, the lottery continues to lead the way with integrity, solid business practices and innovation — all to benefit K-12 education in Virginia,” Hall said.

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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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