Online lottery games will become available to Virginia residents beginning July 1, 2020.
The state is among a large field of those that have eyed providing online lottery games in recent years. Virginia will become the ninth state to provide lottery tickets — like Mega Millions, Powerball and Cash4Life — and instant-win games via personal computers, mobile phones and tablet devices.
Shift to online lottery games
The decision to repeal existing laws that prohibited the sale of lottery games over the internet was voted on and passed by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam approved the change in March. Virginia will join eight other states that offer online lottery games:
The online instant win games will come in a wide variety of themes and styles. They will be available to play both as a demo and for real money. The highest cash prize currently available reaches $500,000. While each release will be staggered to slowly build the brand’s content library, the Virginia Lottery expects a robust catalog of games to be available quickly.
Software developer Instant Win Gaming will be providing online lottery software. IWG has inked content provider contracts with Michigan and New Hampshire, as well.
In-person ticket and game sales will remain available to the general public at retail locations throughout the state.
Virginia Lottery revenue
With reports of lottery sales dipping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the online offerings are expected to inject some much-needed revenue into the lottery. The slump comes after three consecutive years of growth in sales and proceeds.
Currently, the Virginia Lottery has recorded a 28% decrease in revenue for the year. Q2 earnings statements have not yet been released, though revenues are expected to have fallen deeper into the red.
That’s not to say the Virginia Lottery has not been a success for the state in the past. With nearly $40 billion in ticket sales since 1989, the lottery has taken in over $12 billion. The rest ended up as:
- Prize awards: $22.7 billion
- Retail commissions: $2.2 billion
- Operating expenses: $2.2 billion
Additionally, Virginia Lottery proceeds support education in a large way. K-12 public schools and programs benefit from the lottery’s annual contribution, an amount that funds nearly 10% of the state’s education budget.
The Virginia Lottery has recorded three consecutive yearly increases in sales and proceeds. That streak will likely end this year.
Executive Director of the Virginia Lottery Kevin Hall said online lottery games were a good choice for the organization, stating, “We feel it’s important to continue to meet Virginia consumers where they already are, and where they expect to find us: online.”