Virginia Lottery sales surged during the past quarter and continued the agency’s rebound from a temporary retail dip due to the coronavirus.
VA Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall recently addressed the Virginia Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committee. During those comments, he confirmed the lottery’s promising start to its new fiscal year.
The Virginia Lottery’s latest full fiscal year ended on June 30. As previously reported, the VA Lottery garnered $2.15 billion in total sales and more than $595 million in proceeds during that 12-month period.
That latest fiscal year ranked third all-time in profits. Additionally, total Virginia Lottery sales ranked second all-time. In fact, the VA Lottery was on pace to break both records before the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily hindered spring sales.
However, as Hall told the committee on Tuesday, this newest fiscal year is off to an impressive start.
Virginia Lottery sales boom in Q1
Hall spoke to the committee about sales and revenue for July 1 to Sept. 31. And his message was an encouraging one.
Hall said lottery sales rose 36% – up $181.5 million – in its first quarter of the fiscal year compared to last year. Additionally, profits rose 12% (up $27.4 million).
Year-over-year sales were down each month from January through April this year. However, May sales were up 9%. In fact, each month since then has seen double-digit increases. That includes the fiscal year Q1 results:
- July: +17%
- August: +11%
- September: +13%
Throughout the year, Hall has mentioned that the Virginia Lottery, which launched in 1987, was the “only game in town” in the spring. That was due to pandemic-related measures, including shelter-in-place orders and business restrictions. Additionally, operators closed most of Rosie’s historical horse racing terminals and retailed-based skill game machines in Virginia. Also, casinos in neighboring states were closed.
Likewise, the VA Lottery also had to take COVID 19-related measures. Officials closed the lottery offices, and they now expect most of the staff to work from home until at least early 2021. However, they’ve reopened the lottery’s eight prize-claim centers throughout the commonwealth.
As Hall said:
“I’m pleased to report we’ve continued to operate the business efficiently, safely and successfully while working to keep our employees, our customers, our retail partners and their families as safe as possible. Our employees really stepped up and demonstrated a lot of creativity and commitment. And just as an agency director, I’m very pleased to report our workforce of about 300 lottery employees remains healthy.”
The actual lotto games have kept the Virginia Lottery busy. However, officials will oversee some new major initiatives in the upcoming year. They include preparations for the first casinos in Virginia, as well as the launch of online sports betting in Virginia.
iLotto boosts VA Lottery sales
The Virginia Lottery kicked off its fiscal year with the launch of iLottery options at VALottery.com. And they proved successful.
With the online options, VA Lottery players can play lottery games from smartphones, tablets and computers. They can purchase tickets for popular multi-state draw games such as Mega Millions, Powerball and Cash4Life. Additionally, they can play 18 different online instant games, including a keno option.
The iLotto platform went live on July 1.
Since the launch, 65,000 registered players have shared in a combined $130 million in total prizes during the 16 weeks of operation, VA Lottery officials recently announced. It was the result of an accelerated timeline that should boost revenue in the current fiscal year.
“Typically it would have taken a year or more to launch an iLottery platform,” Hall said. “We managed to get it down in less than four months. That means it will provide several additional months of unanticipated revenue.”
However, the expansion to online play didn’t hinder the lottery’s usual offerings at its 5,300 retail locations. According to Hall, compared to Q1 2019, the 2020 retail numbers also have seen a sales boost in scratch-off tickets (up 8%) and draw games such as Pick 3 and Pick 4 (up 23%). Overall retail sales are up 10% despite the expansion of online play.
“We were very happy to see that,” Hall said.
As part of its continued commitment to retail options, Hall also said the VA Lottery will install new self-service machines in 100 Walmart stores and 250 CVS locations through Virginia.