The Ohio Department of Education hit the jackpot in the past fiscal year, claiming the largest education payout in state lottery history — $771 million.
By law, all lottery profits go to the Ohio Department of Education to support K-12 public schools.
The previous record profit transfer of $748.8 million was set in 1997, the Ohio Lottery reported .
Lottery proceeds make up about 6 percent of the department of education’s general revenue fund $7.6 billion budget and carry even more weight in an era of government cutbacks and declining tax revenues in many school districts.
“Every dollar counts, so any money is important money to the department, especially this year,’’ said Patti Grey, a spokeswoman for the department of education.
The education department benefited from record lottery sales of $2.73 billion in fiscal 2012, which ended June 30. Preliminary unaudited figures show sales were up by $133 million from the previous fiscal year, not including video lottery terminal sales.
Fiscal 2012 was the 11th consecutive year of higher lottery sales, and the lottery got a big sales boost from the world record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March.
“That pretty much boosted sales across the board in the lottery industry in the United States,’’ said Marie Kilbane, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Lottery.
Sales of Powerball tickets, another multistate game introduced in Ohio in April 2010, also helped boost overall sales last year. Powerball sales were up 38 percent to $105 million in the last fiscal year.
“When you have more states getting involved you have the possibility of growing the jackpots much higher,’’ Kilbane said.
She said much of the lottery’s appeal can be attributed to the variety of games it offers, although Kilbane acknowledged that interest in some of the oldest games has begun to wane.
For example, sales of the oldest online game, Pick 3, fell 2 percent to $357 million, and Pick 4 sales dropped about 1 percent in the last fiscal year. Still, the two games combined accounted for 21 percent of total lottery sales.
Sales could be diluted even further by the opening of four new casinos in Ohio, a first for the state. Casinos in Cleveland and Toledo opened in May, and two others are set to open in Columbus this fall and Cincinnati early next year.
“We do anticipate a small impact, especially in the counties where there is a casino,” Kilbane said. “Potentially, there could be a decrease in sales of 4.5 (percent) to 6.5 percent. But remember this has never happened before, so those are just estimates.”
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2437 or rtucker@DaytonDailyNews.com.
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