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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Steady sales of instant scratch-off tickets, a greater number of retailers and the unprecedented $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March helped the Virginia Lottery post a record profit in latest fiscal year, officials said Thursday.
The $487.1 million profit for the fiscal year that ended June 30 topped the previous record of $455.3 million set in 2008 by the agency that generates revenue for Virginia public schools. The lottery earned $444 million in fiscal year 2011.
Ticket sales increased by $133 million, to $1.6 billion. And lottery players collected $962.3 million in prizes, an increase of $81.3 million, or 9 percent, over the previous year.
Sales related to the March 30 Mega Millions jackpot generated about $21.8 million in profit. During peak times, the agency said more than 28,000 Mega Millions tickets were being bought per minute across Virginia for the drawing.
Additionally, sales of instant scratch-off tickets accounted for $842.1 million in sales as players grabbed up popular scratch-off games like Virginia Lottery Black and 10X the Money.
"We saw sales of all of our products go up during that amazing, historic jackpot run," said Paula Otto, the lottery's executive director. "But the strength was in the balance of our portfolio and growth on the scratch side."
Retailers also shared in the record-setting year, earning $90.7 million in commissions. The agency ended the fiscal year with 5,268 retailers, a 4.3 percent increase from a year ago. Otto said the retailer roster was bolstered by the addition of 60 Wawa stores, making Virginia and Pennsylvania the only states where the convenience market chain sells lottery tickets.
Officials said the Lottery also kept its operating expenses to 4.8 percent of sales for the year, below the 10 percent allowed by Virginia law.