RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Lottery said Monday it earned a record $538.6 million in the most recent fiscal year on the strength of sales of instant scratch-off tickets, a new branding effort and a huge Mega Millions jackpot drawing in December.
The profit for the fiscal year that ended June 30 broke the mark of $487.1 million set in fiscal 2012. Lottery sales last fiscal year grew 7.2 percent to a record $1.81 billion, and a record $1.08 billion in prizes were handed out, lottery officials said.
Last year marked the first full year of the "We're Game" brand that included a push for ticket sales in grocery stores.
Executive Director Paula Otto said the number of people buying tickets grew 2 percentage points last fiscal year to about 35 percent of adults. She said those figures are based on tracking research of lottery players who voluntarily indicate their monthly playing habits.
She said the goal in the current fiscal year is 37 percent.
More than 40 scratch-off games were introduced in Virginia last year, and Otto said the Lottery saw sales growth in higher-priced tickets costing $10 to $20 tickets. Scratch-off sales were a record $988.6 million, up from $887.1 million in the previous fiscal year.
Ticket sales from a $636 million Mega Millions jackpot last December, the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history, resulted in more than $16 million in profit for the Virginia Lottery.
Those jackpot games account for about 15 percent of the Virginia Lottery's annual revenue.
"We have a good balance from scratch games, daily draw games and the jackpot games," Otto said. "If we didn't have any big jackpots, we still would have had good growth."
Under state law, all lottery profit goes to Virginia's K-12 public schools.