Viva Bristol: Virginia Lottery still a gambling alternative
The Virginia Lottery has been a regular feature in the region's stores since 1987. The pandemic did cause drops in sales of scratch and drawing tickets in March and April 2020, but sales soon recovered. On July 1, 2020 the lottery began online sales. The online and brick-and-mortar site sales contributed to increased lottery sales in 2020 and 2021. Border localities like Bristol and Northern Virginia benefit from out-of-state sales, especially for commuters and shoppers.
The lottery profits are dedicated by law to fund state education programs. Scratch tickets are the larger source of lottery revenue in Bristol. Lottery profits make up about 10% of all state funding each year. The Literacy Fund helps pay for school construction projects across Virginia. When gas prices are high, lottery sales at convenience stores decrease. In 2021, more than $10 million will be spent on school projects.
Virginia Lottery's Play Responsibly program works with the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling and the National Council of Problem Gamblers. The organization also offers hotline and education services. There is a Voluntary Exclusion program where people can choose to be kept from playing the lottery.
Online sports betting started in Virginia in January 2021. According to industry website legalsportsreport, betting totaled $4.98 billion from 2021 through April this year. Revenues for gaming operators totaled $422.4 million and Virginia has seen $29.8 million in tax revenue. In April, Virginians bet $399.5 million, won $363.2 million with 12 licensed mobile betting operators.
Bristol casino is projected to pay the state $35 million annually in gaming tax with $130 million in annual net gaming revenues.