Virginia was the 29th state in the United States to legalize a state run lottery when it voted 57 for and 43 opposed in 1987. Virginia was also the first Southern state to allow a lottery.
Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, all now have lotteries with the exception of Alabama, Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii.
The funds collected are divided into a number of pots before any monies reach the education system, which is a major destination for these funds.
Each dollar going into the lottery for all tickets (scratch, powerball, etc.) goes roughly 60 percent to prizes, 5 percent administration, 5 percent retail sellers, and 30 percent for education. The approximately $500 million given to Virginia schools annually represents less than 10 percent of the operating budget for those schools. From 1999 through 2015, the Virginia Lottery generated $7 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade in Virginia public schools. The funds are distributed to the localities based on programs and needs – such as textbooks, class size, early reading intervention and school breakfast – as authorized by the General Assembly.
Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery, was the dynamic and delightful guest speaker at the Chester Lions Club’s meeting May 24. She imparted most of the above information and answered questions with regard to the Virginia Lottery and its operation. Lion Berley Wade, who retired from the IRS, reminded his fellow Lions that there are three things which cannot be legislated against: drinking, sex, and gambling.