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How does Virginia ABC lottery work?

The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) holds a monthly lottery to award the right to purchase rare, limited availability spirits that are in high demand. The lottery system aims to provide fair and equal access to these products for all Virginia residents.

What spirits are included in the ABC lottery?

The Virginia ABC lottery includes limited release and allocated spirits that are difficult to obtain. This typically includes certain whiskies, such as bourbons and scotches, that have limited production volumes. Some examples of popular lottery products include:

  • Pappy Van Winkle bourbons
  • Buffalo Trace Antique Collection
  • BTAC (George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, Eagle Rare 17 Year, Sazerac Rye 18 Year)
  • Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye
  • Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash
  • Michter’s 25 Year Single Barrel Rye

The specific bottles available each month vary based on what the ABC has available to allocate. Virginia ABC stores do not keep ongoing inventory of these products – quantities are only released periodically through the lottery.

Who can enter the Virginia ABC lottery?

The lottery is open to all Virginia residents aged 21 or older. Both in-state and out-of-state license holders are eligible to enter.

To enter the lottery, you must have a valid Virginia DMV issued ID or driver’s license. Active duty military members stationed in Virginia can provide their military ID and orders showing they are stationed in Virginia.

How does the entry process work?

There are a few steps required to submit a lottery entry:

  1. Create an online lottery profile on the Virginia ABC website. This includes providing your name, contact information, and uploading an image of your valid VA DMV license or military ID.
  2. Once your profile is approved, log in to your account to view each month’s available lottery products. You can enter the lottery for up to 5 different products each month.
  3. For each product you want to enter, you must select the Virginia ABC store location where you want to pick it up if selected. This allows the ABC to allocate bottles to stores based on demand.
  4. After entering all your selections, submit your lottery entries. You will receive a confirmation email with your entries.

The lottery entry period runs from the 1st to the 14th of each month. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 pm on the 14th. The ABC will review entries and conduct the randomized drawing after the entry period closes.

How are lottery winners selected?

Lottery winners are selected at random via a computer generated drawing. Each eligible entry is assigned a number, and random numbers are drawn to select the winners.

The odds of winning depend on the number of entries submitted for each product. More popular products receive thousands of entries, so the odds are very low. Lesser known products may only have hundreds of entries.

The ABC lottery system ensures each entry has an equal chance at being selected. Your chances do not improve by submitting multiple entries for the same product.

How many winners are selected?

The number of winners varies based on the number of bottles available. For rare, limited release products, there may only be a handful of winners. For more readily available items, there may be 100+ winners.

Winners are selected until all available bottles have been allocated. You will not be notified if you are selected as an alternate – only if you secured one of the available bottles.

How are winners notified?

If you are selected as a lottery winner, you will receive an email notification from the Virginia ABC. This email will list the product(s) you won and provide next steps for claiming your bottle.

You will generally be notified of lottery results within 5 business days of the drawing. Instructions will be provided on how to purchase your allocated bottle.

Is there a cost to enter the Virginia ABC lottery?

Entering the Virginia ABC lottery is free. You are not charged simply for submitting an entry.

If you are chosen as a winner, you will need to purchase the bottle allocated to you. Lottery products are sold at MSRP – no markup. You will pay the standard retail price as if purchasing without the lottery.

How long do winners have to purchase allocated bottles?

Winners typically have 7 days from the date of the notification email to go to their selected ABC store and complete the purchase.

The ABC may allow additional time in special circumstances, such as holidays or inclement weather. But in general, you must buy your allocated bottle within one week.

If you fail to purchase within the collection period, you will forfeit your allocation. The bottle may then be offered to select lottery alternates. So be sure to purchase promptly once notified!

Can lottery winners pick up bottles at any ABC store?

No. When entering the lottery, you must select the specific ABC store location where you want to pick up the product if selected. This assigns bottles directly to individual stores.

You are required to pick up your allocated bottle at the store you chose during entry. The ABC will not transfer bottles between store locations.

Be sure to choose a reasonably convenient location you can travel to on short notice. Also consider providing an alternate location as a backup – if your first choice sells out, your allocation may be moved.

Are there purchase limits for lottery winners?

Yes. Each lottery winner can only purchase one bottle of each allocated product. You cannot purchase multiples, even if you win multiple lotteries.

This ensures a fair distribution and prevents individuals from hoarding. It allows more customers the chance to obtain rare and limited availability spirits.

Can winners appoint a proxy to purchase bottles?

Absolutely. If you are unable to pick up your allotted bottle yourself, you can appoint a representative to act as your proxy.

To assign a proxy, log into your Virginia ABC account and navigate to the lottery profile settings. Here, you can officially designate another individual to complete the purchase on your behalf.

Your proxy must bring the notification email, a printed copy of the proxy authorization, and their own valid photo ID. They will complete the purchase the same as if you were present.

What forms of payment can be used for purchases?

Purchases must be made in-person at the ABC store. Accepted forms of payment include:

  • Cash
  • Credit/debit card – Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express
  • Gift card – Virginia ABC gift card only

Personal checks are NOT accepted. Lottery purchases cannot be made online – winners must visit the store to complete the transaction.

Can non-US residents enter the Virginia ABC lottery?

Unfortunately, the Virginia ABC lottery is only open to legal U.S. residents. Per Virginia state regulations, you must provide a valid, DMV-issued Virginia driver’s license, ID, or military order showing residency.

Out-of-state licenses from other US states/territories are allowed. But international IDs and passports are not accepted. All entrants must prove current legal residency within the United States.

Are bars/restaurants allowed to enter the lottery?

Yes. Bars, restaurants, and other on-premise accounts with a valid Virginia ABC license can enter the lottery. The business owner or designated agent may submit entries on behalf of the business.

If selected, the business must send an authorized representative to pick up the allocated bottle within the required timeframe. All standard lottery rules and purchase limits apply.

What are some tips for winning the Virginia ABC lottery?

With hundreds or thousands of entries each month, luck plays a big role in whether you are selected. But there are a few strategies that may improve your chances:

  • Enter for less popular products – Odds are lower for well-known, highly demanded items like Pappy Van Winkle
  • Avoid “lottery pools” with multiple entrants – Having more unique entries improves your odds
  • Select a less busy store as your pickup location – Popular urban stores have greater demand
  • Make sure your account profile is up to date – Inaccurate info risks an invalid entry
  • Follow up right away if you win – Don’t risk losing your bottle to an alternate

Persistence is key. Keep entering each month, spread your selections across various products, and maximize your chances of getting lucky!

What happens if an allocated bottle becomes damaged or unavailable?

If an allocated bottle becomes damaged or otherwise unavailable for purchase, the ABC will make reasonable efforts to offer alternatives. This may include:

  • Substituting the same product from a future month’s allocation
  • Replacing it with a similar product at no additional cost
  • Issuing a gift card or refund for the value of the missing product

Resolution will depend on the specific circumstances. Contact your selected ABC store directly regarding options if your allocated bottle is affected.

Can winners “swap” or exchange products with other winners?

Swapping lottery products with other winners is prohibited. Your selection must match the product specified in the notification email from Virginia ABC.

Attempting to exchange items subverts the structured allocation process. Any deviation from the assigned product may result in revocation of your lottery privileges.

How are lottery entries tracked and audited?

The Virginia ABC lottery process involves several tracking measures and audits to ensure a fair and secure system, including:

  • Capturing entry IP addresses to identify invalid automated entries
  • Analyzing selection patterns to detect questionable activity
  • Reviewing store inventory reports and purchase logs for discrepancies
  • Running age and residency verifications against state and federal databases
  • Investigating and invalidating fraudulent entries if identified

All activities around lottery entries, listings, selections, and sales are carefully monitored. ABC managers perform extensive audits monthly and annually. Invalid entries or purchases identified via audit may result in revocation of lottery privileges.

What if I missed the entry period for a month?

Unfortunately, there are no late entries or extensions for missing a month’s lottery entry period. Purchases can only be made if you entered and won during the standard lottery in a given month.

Your only option is to enter future lotteries in upcoming months. Maintain your eligibility by ensuring your account remains active and address is kept up to date.

Set yourself a monthly reminder to check the Virginia ABC website at the start of each period. This will prompt you to view new products and submit entries before the deadline.

Can winners forfeit or “pass” on buying an allocated bottle?

You cannot decline or forfeit your lottery winnings. If selected, you MUST complete the purchase within the required timeframe or risk losing future eligibility.

The ABC does not offer a “pass” option to allow winners to simply skip a month. The only way to avoid buying an allocated bottle is to not enter the lottery at all.

Once you submit entries, you are committing to purchase any products won. So only enter lotteries when willing and able to buy.

How is the Virginia ABC lottery different from other states?

ABC lottery structures vary widely across different states. Some key differences with Virginia include:

State Key Differences from Virginia
Pennsylvania – Operates as an online-only lottery with bottle delivery
– Allows multiple bottle purchases per winner
Ohio – Uses a “right to purchase” system instead of lottery
– Winners pay to enter drawings and secure a voucher
Kentucky – Requires in-person registration at stores during set windows
– Imposes a blackout period for repeat wins
New Hampshire – Permits phone and mail-in entries without online portal
– Sends email notifications announcing store inventory

Policies vary but Virginia’s lottery system is considered one of the more transparent and digitized. Features like online profiles and product lookups offer extra convenience for entering.


The Virginia ABC lottery provides a fair and equal opportunity for residents to obtain rare and limited availability spirits. The lottery system limits purchases to one bottle per product and conducts extensive audits and tracking to identify invalid entries or purchases.

While winning ultimately comes down to luck, entering each month and selecting less popular products will improve your chances. Remember to pick up your bottle within the allotted timeframe if you receive a coveted lottery win email!