Virginia State Lottery
|Headquarters||900 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219|
|Minister responsible||Paula I. Otto, Executive Director|
|Parent agency||Commonwealth of Virginia|
The Virginia Lottery is an independent agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was created in 1987 when Virginians voted in favor of a state lottery. The first ticket was sold on September 20, 1988. All profits from Virginia Lottery ticket sales go to K-12 public education. In Fiscal Year 2014, the Lottery's profits totaled $538.6 million, which accounted for approximately 8 percent of school funding in Virginia. That brought total Lottery profits in Virginia (from 1989 to June 2014) to more than $9.5 billion.
Daily draw games include Pick 3, Pick 4, and Cash 5; each of which is drawn twice daily. The Virginia Lottery also offers numerous scratchers. It is one of 46 lotteries which sells Mega Millions tickets, and one of 47 offering Powerball. Decades of Dollars is drawn Mondays and Thursdays; Mega Millions is drawn Tuesdays and Fridays, while Powerball is drawn Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Lottery maintains elaborate security procedures to protect the integrity of its games.
The Lottery's headquarters is in downtown Richmond; additional customer service centers are in Abingdon, Farmville, Hampton, Harrisonburg, Henrico, Roanoke, and Woodbridge.
- 1 History
- 2 Governance
- 3 Games
- 4 Security
- 5 Compulsive gambling
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Lotteries date back to the earliest days of Virginia. "The Great Virginia Lottery" was held long before Virginia became a state. It began in 1612 to help raise funds for the struggling Jamestown Settlement; it raised ₤29,000 for the Virginia Company. Lottery proceeds helped establish early universities (including Virginia's College of William and Mary and University of Virginia), churches, and libraries. Gambling was outlawed in Virginia in 1849.
Virginia voters approved a government-run lottery in 1987. Before the vote, supporters of a lottery suggested a number of possible ways in which lottery profits could be designated in Virginia, such as education, transportation and Chesapeake Bay cleanup. However, the referendum actually made no designation of how lottery profits would be spent. Sales began September 20, 1988. In 1989, the General Assembly directed Lottery proceeds to capital construction projects. From 1990 to 1998, the proceeds went to Virginia's General Fund. Starting in 1999, a provision in Virginia's budget called for all proceeds to be assigned exclusively to education. In November 2000, Virginia voters approved the creation of the State Lottery Proceeds Fund by an 83.5-point margin. The measure, which is a permanent part of Virginia's Constitution, directs the General Assembly to use all Lottery profits for educational purposes. The Lottery does not control how its profits are spent.
Under Virginia law, all unclaimed prizes go to the Virginia Literary Fund, which is also used for educational purposes. As of 2014, more than $244 million in unclaimed prizes have been transferred to the Literary Fund.
In 2004, retired truck driver J. R. Triplett of Winchester won the largest Virginia Lottery prize to date when he claimed a Mega Millions jackpot worth $239 million (annuity value) for the April 1 drawing. Eight Mega Millions jackpots and one Powerball jackpot have been won in Virginia.
The Lottery is an independent agency, separate from the other branches of government. The department is governed by a five-member board, with each member appointed by the Governor to serve a five-year term. The Lottery is headed by an Executive Director, who is appointed by the Governor. Paula Otto, a former associate director of the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University, is the fourth executive director in the Lottery's history. She was first appointed on Feb. 1, 2008, and has served under three governors, of both major political parties. 
In Fiscal Year 2014, Lottery sales were more than $1.8 billion. The lottery generated $538.6 million, or 29.7%, for public education, 59.7% was paid out as prizes, 5.6% was paid to retailers as sales commissions, and 5% covered the Lottery Department's operational expenses.
The Lottery sponsors the annual Virginia Lottery Super Teacher Awards. A Commonwealth-wide panel of educators annually select one Super Teacher from each of eight geographic regions. Each winner receives a $2,000 credit for schoolroom supplies from The Supply Room Companies and $2,000 from the Lottery.
The Virginia Lottery gives top-prize winners of certain games a choice of cash or annuity. When a Virginia top-prize winner of Decades of Dollars, Mega Millions, or Powerball is claimed, the Lottery purchases sufficient U.S. Government bonds to cover the prize. (A cash option winner of Mega Millions or Powerball receives the "lump sum" in two installments as both games are offered by multiple lotteries.) The actual cash value depends on the market value of the bonds on the date they are sold. As winnings from gambling are considered income, federal laws require the Lottery to withhold Federal Income Tax on all prizes (whether lump sum or annuity) over $5,000.
Virginia Lottery sales are conducted by licensed businesses which receive a commission. Credit cards cannot be used to purchase Lottery tickets. The Lottery offers a subscription service for Mega Millions by automatic withdrawals from the subscriber's checking account.
Virginia-only draw games
Within Virginia, the Lottery offers "Pick 3", "Pick 4," and "Cash 5." Each game is drawn twice a day (at 2PM and 11PM), seven days a week.
Pick 3 and Pick 4
Virginia's Cash 5 game draws five numbers from a pool of 34. The minimum wager is $1; games can be played for 25 and/or 50 cents providing the total is $1 or more. The top prize on a $1 single-game wager is $100,000; that pool's liability limit is $2,000,000.
$1,000,000 Money Ball
$1,000,000 Money Ball is a drawing game with drawings held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Players choose 5 of 35 numbers; there are 36 balls to be drawn from, including a gold-colored "Money Ball". Games are $2 each. If one of the five balls drawn is the "Money Ball", a sixth ball is drawn so there are five winning numbers. A ticket matching all five numbers in a drawing where the "Moneyball" is drawn wins $1,000,000; otherwise the prize is $100,000. Other prizes are $100, $10, and $2.
Decades of Dollars (final drawing April 30, 2015)
Decades of Dollars is a drawing game currently available only in Virginia, offering a top prize of $250,000 per year in 30 annual installments ($7.5 million total) or a cash option of $4 million. Drawings are twice a week: on Monday and Thursday. Each play costs $2. Players choose six numbers from 1 through 47.
Any ticket matching at least two numbers wins. Matching two numbers (on a Virginia-generated ticket) wins a $2 quick-pick Decades of Dollars ticket; three numbers wins $10, four numbers wins $100. Matching five numbers wins $10,000. A ticket that matches all six numbers wins the top prize.
Virginia's first Decades of Dollars top prize-winning ticket was sold in Norfolk for the April 12, 2012 drawing. A second top prize-winning ticket was sold less than a month later in Waynesboro. As of December 2014, there were 666 second-prize ($10,000) Decades of Dollars winning tickets bought in Virginia.
Decades of Dollars' final drawing will be April 30, 2015. On May 3, Virginia will join Cash4Life.
In 2007, the Lottery offered its first Millionaire Raffle; 330,000 tickets were sold at $20 each, after which numbers were randomly drawn to win up to $1 million. The Lottery has held Millionaire Raffles irregularly: some during spring; but most have been drawn on New Years Day. Rules vary with each raffle; the top prize is usually always $1 million; generally, all raffle prizes are paid in lump sum.
Multi-jurisdiction draw games
Mega Millions is a drawing game played in Virginia and most other U. S. states (Virginia is one of the original six states to first offer the game in 1996 when it was then known as "The Big Game"). Jackpots start at $15 million and grow with each drawing in which there is no jackpot winner. Drawings are held Tuesdays and Fridays. Players select five numbers, 1 through 75, plus a Mega Ball number, 1 through 15. Players also have the option to use the Megaplier, which increases the ticket price by $1 each but raises the value of any non-jackpot prizes won. A ticket matching all six numbers win the jackpot. The jackpot is pari-mutuel, meaning that if multiple tickets match all six numbers, each of them receives an equal share of the total jackpot. Mega Millions jackpot are offered as an annuity, although a cash option is also available.
The odds of matching all six numbers to win the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 258,890,850. The odds of winning any prize are 1 in 14.7. As of January 2014, eight Mega Millions jackpots have been won in Virginia.
Powerball is a drawing game in which players try to match five number from 1 through 59, plus a Powerball number from 1 through 35. A ticket that matches all six numbers wins the jackpot. Jackpot amounts begin at $40 million and grow with each drawing in which the jackpot is not won. Top-prize Powerball winners can choose cash in lieu of annuity payments. The jackpot is pari-mutuel, meaning that if multiple tickets match all six numbers, each of them receives an equal share of the total jackpot.
A basic Powerball ticket costs $2. The Power Play option adds $1 to the price of each ticket in a given playslip, so a Powerball ticket with Power Play costs $3 (up from $2). The odds of matching all six numbers to win the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 175,223,510. The odds of winning any prize are 1 in 32. One Powerball jackpot has been won in Virginia.
Fast Play and scratcher games
From its inception, the Virginia Lottery has sold instant (scratcher) games. Originally, all scratch tickets were $1 each; in the mid-1990s, the first Bingo scratcher was introduced; each Bingo ticket cost $2. Eventually, higher-priced scratchers (including $3, $5, and $10) with larger prizes were introduced. Currently, the most expensive scratchers are $20 each. All $20 games currently in circulation and many $10 games offer a top prize of at least $1 million (annuitized). The largest prize offered to date in a Virginia scratcher is $5 million (annuity). Winners of scratcher annuity prizes of at least $1 million can choose cash (just as in the top prizes in Powerball, Mega Millions, or Decades of Dollars).
In 2007, the Lottery began complementing scratchers with its first Fast Play game: "Fast Play Bingo". As with traditional Lottery games, tickets are printed by the terminal; however as in scratchers, winning status is determined when the ticket is printed (there is no drawing for a Fast Play game). More Fast Play games have been added over the years, and as of 2013, the Lottery maintains a continually-changing lineup of Fast Play games at $2, $3, and $5 prices: each with its own rules and prizes.
Virginia Lottery drawings are conducted under elaborate security protocols. The set of balls used for each drawing are randomly selected from a number of sets; and detailed records of "test" drawings are maintained to prevent systematic biases. In addition, forging lottery tickets, or tampering with a Lottery drawing is a Class 5 felony. All Virginia Lottery employees and applicants to become Lottery sales agents are fingerprinted and subject to criminal background checks.
Theft of Virginia Lottery tickets are investigated by both the Lottery and local law enforcement agencies.
Virginia law requires that each ticket include a telephone number for a counseling service that addresses compulsive gambling. That number links to the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline, which is maintained by the Lottery. The Lottery also includes information on compulsive gambling on its website. and has produced Problem Gambling and Play Responsibly public service announcements for TV and radio. The Lottery supports National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
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- Virginia Code § 58.1–4003.
- Virginia Code § 58.1–4004.
- Virginia Code § 58.1–4005.
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- "Security". Virginia State Lottery. Archived from the original on 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
- Virginia Code § 58.1–4018.1.
- Virginia Code § 58.1–4008.
- Virginia Code § 58.1–4009.
- Virginia Code § 58.1–4007.1.
- "Compulsive Gambling". Virginia State Lottery. Archived from the original on 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
- "Virginia Lottery Encourages Support of National Problem Gambling Awareness Week". Virginia State Lottery. March 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- VALottery.com – Official site