Record demand for California lottery tickets is promising to provide a big financial boost to state schools.
Though experts point out you’re more likely to be hit by lightning than become a lottery millionaire, more than $4.9 billion in lottery tickets have been sold during the fiscal year that ends Monday.
That’s not only a record, but also a significant increase from the $4.4 billion worth of tickets sold the previous fiscal year.
Although the numbers are not final, a lottery official said if sales climb past the $5 billion mark — it would be the first time sales have surpassed $5 billion since the California lottery began in 1985.
Acting Lottery Director Paula LaBrie said:
“It’s been a record year for the California Lottery, and we’re proud of what we’ve been able to achieve for California schools. However, we have tremendous opportunities for continued growth in the new fiscal year, and we’re determined to make this another great year for the Lottery and for public education.”
Lottery officials said sales of “Scratchers” made up most of the revenue, with more than $3 billion in tickets sold.
As a result of ticket sales, California schools will get more than $1 billion from the lottery this year — the 14th year in a row more than $1 billion has been distributed to the school system.
The lottery sold its first ticket in 1985, after voters passed a proposition authorizing its creation to provide additional funds to the state’s schools.
Though sales benefits schools and big winners get plenty of publicity, the lottery’s website urges ticket buyers to “play responsibly.”
Under the site’s “Responsible Gambling How-To’s” lottery officials caution:
“Remember that over time nearly everyone loses: significant financial gain is rarely a benefit of gambling. Instead, find excitement in taking a chance, in winning sometimes and in having fun with your friends while gambling.”
The lottery’s website also posts a phone number to the California Problem Gambling Help Line.
John Marshall is an SFBay editor and producer and writer for San Francisco’s KGO Radio. Follow him on Twitter @breakingnewsman.