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What Lottery is only for Virginia?

The Virginia Lottery is the only lottery operated exclusively in the state of Virginia. It was established in 1987 through a voter referendum and legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly. The Virginia Lottery generates revenue for K-12 public education in the Commonwealth.

When was the Virginia Lottery established?

The Virginia Lottery was established in 1987 through a voter referendum and legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly. The referendum to establish a state-run lottery passed with over 60% approval from Virginia voters in November 1987. The enabling legislation to create the Virginia Lottery was signed into law by Governor Gerald L. Baliles in February 1988.

The Virginia Lottery began ticket sales on September 20, 1988 with its first game, a $1 scratch-off ticket called “Peanut Cash.” The Virginia Lottery has continued to introduce new scratch games and draw games over the past 30+ years while generating billions of dollars for Virginia’s K-12 public schools.

What games does the Virginia Lottery offer?

The Virginia Lottery offers a variety of scratch games and draw games for players to choose from. Here is an overview of the different game options:

Scratch Games

Scratch games are played by scratching off the latex coating on the ticket to reveal prizes underneath. The Virginia Lottery releases 30+ new scratcher games each year with various price points and top prizes.

  • Popular scratch games: Gold Rush, Extreme Green, 20X the Money, Limited Edition Games
  • Ticket prices: Range from $1 to $30
  • Prizes: Range from free $1 ticket to millions of dollars
  • Odds: Vary by game, roughly 1 in 4.5 tickets wins a prize

Draw Games

Draw games involve buying a ticket and waiting for scheduled drawings to take place to determine winners. The Lottery offers different draw game options.

  • Cash 5 – Pick 5 of 41 numbers for a top prize of $100,000
  • Bank a Million – Match 6 of 24 numbers for a top prize of $1 million
  • Pick 3/Pick 4 – Pick 3 or 4 numbers for prizes up to $5,000
  • Cash 4 Life – Match numbers for guaranteed cash + chance at $1,000/day for life
  • Mega Millions – National jackpot game played in many states
  • Powerball – Popular national jackpot game

Draw games have various price points ($1-$2 per play) and odds ranges. Jackpot games have big jackpots but extremely difficult odds (1 in 300+ million chance).

Where does the Virginia Lottery revenue go?

The Virginia Lottery was established with the purpose of generating revenue for K-12 public education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Per the Virginia Lottery’s founding legislation, all profits from Lottery ticket sales go toward K-12 public schools.

In the 2021 fiscal year, the Virginia Lottery generated $765 million in profit that went to public education. Since inception, the Lottery has contributed $11 billion total to Virginia’s public schools.

The revenue helps fund a variety of needs for K-12 education in Virginia, including teacher salaries, school supplies, transportation, sports/arts programs, and school construction.

Virginia Lottery Contributions to Education

Fiscal Year Amount
2021 $765 million
2020 $595 million
2019 $650 million
2018 $618 million
2017 $588 million

The Virginia Lottery consistently ranks in the top 10 state lotteries for per capita contributions to education. Its profits comprised approximately 10% of Virginia’s total K-12 education budget in recent years.

Who can play the Virginia Lottery?

In order to play the Virginia Lottery legally, you must be at least 18 years old. Here are the requirements to purchase lottery tickets in Virginia:

  • Must be 18 or older to purchase tickets
  • Must be a Virginia resident to purchase tickets online or via subscription
  • Must be physically located within Virginia state borders to play
  • Tickets cannot be purchased on behalf of someone else
  • Tickets are only valid in Virginia (not redeemable in other states)

Virginia law prohibits the following regarding Lottery play:

  • Sales of Lottery tickets to anyone under 18
  • Giving Lottery tickets as gifts to minors
  • Cashing or redeeming tickets for anyone other than the person named on the ticket

The Virginia Lottery takes responsible play and age restrictions seriously. Retailers and lottery employees can be penalized for enabling underage play. Players should always provide proof of age when claiming large prizes.

What are the odds of winning the Virginia Lottery?

The odds of winning prizes in the Virginia Lottery games vary widely depending on the type of game played.

Scratch Games

Scratch games overall odds are approximately 1 in 4.5 tickets wins a prize. With dozens of games available, each scratch game has different odds tailored to that game’s price point and prizes.

For example, a $1 scratch game may have a 1 in 4.5 overall odds, while a $20 scratch game may have 1 in 2.9 overall odds. The higher price games tend to have better odds to offset the higher cost.

Draw Games

Draw games odds are all over the map based on the game’s jackpot amount and number pool:

  • Cash 5 – 1 in 749,398 to match 5 of 41 numbers
  • Bank a Million – 1 in 1.7 million to match 6 of 24 numbers
  • Pick 3/Pick 4 – Varies, between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 on average
  • Cash 4 Life – 1 in 21.7 million to win top prize
  • Mega Millions – 1 in 302.6 million for jackpot
  • Powerball – 1 in 292.2 million for jackpot

As you can see, the big national games like Mega Millions and Powerball have incredibly long odds but huge jackpots. Games like Cash 5 and Bank a Million have better odds but smaller top prizes.

Can you buy Virginia Lottery tickets online?

Yes, lottery tickets can be purchased online via the Virginia Lottery’s official mobile app and website. There are a few requirements for online lottery play:

  • Must be a Virginia resident and physically located in Virginia to play
  • Must register an account with valid ID proving age and residency
  • Can add funds to account with debit card or bank account
  • Can play draw games, scratchers, subscriptions, and 2nd chance promotions
  • Winners have option for online prize claims under $600

Playing online offers convenience for Virginia residents. Account holders can play on their phone, tablet, or computer at any time as long as they are within the Virginia state border.

What are the biggest Virginia Lottery jackpots?

The Virginia Lottery has created dozens of millionaires since it began in 1988. Here are some of the biggest Virginia Lottery jackpots and winners to date:

  • May 2013: $217 million Mega Millions – Claimed by Erika and Fernando Macker of Lancaster County
  • January 2016: $1.6 billion Powerball – Claimed by anonymous trust based in Hampton Roads area
  • December 2000: $153 million Big Game – Claimed by construction worker Jim Parsons of Halifax
  • May 2004: $145 million Powerball – Anonymous winner in Norfolk
  • January 2011: $107 million Mega Millions – Anonymous winner in Loudoun County

The two biggest jackpots were from the national draw games Mega Millions and Powerball. Several unnamed trusts have claimed jackpot prizes preferring privacy over publicity.

The Virginia Lottery creates big winners every year across its various scratch and draw games. With better odds, there are also many smaller $1 million and $100,000 winners from games like Cash 5 and scratch tickets.

Where can I buy Virginia Lottery tickets?

There are thousands of Virginia Lottery retailers across the state that sell draw game and scratch tickets. You can find lottery tickets at these types of locations:

  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Convenience stores
  • Supermarkets
  • Drug stores
  • Liquor stores
  • Tobacco shops
  • Retailers with Lottery signs

The Virginia Lottery has over 5,000 licensed retail partners. You can find retailers convenient to you that sell tickets using the Virginia Lottery’s website search tool.

Tickets can also be purchased online through the Lottery’s website and mobile apps when registered with an account and located within Virginia borders.

How do Virginia Lottery drawings work?

Drawings are held for Virginia’s pick number games (Pick 3, Pick 4) twice daily, seven days a week. Computerized machines randomly select the winning numbers during scheduled drawings.

Drawings for multi-state jackpot games Mega Millions and Powerball are held two nights a week. Mega Millions draws Tuesdays and Fridays, while Powerball draws Wednesdays and Saturdays.

All drawings are conducted under tight security protocols at draw studios. Drawings are monitored by auditors and independent observers to ensure integrity and randomness.

For Pick 3/Pick 4 drawings, four machines are used – one for each digit in the number. The four machines each have balls numbered 0 through 9. The machines randomly release one ball during the drawing, selecting the winning digit.

The Mega Millions and Powerball drawings involve machine mixing of numbered balls and randomized ball selection to determine the winning numbers. Lottery officials and auditors verify results.

Drawings can be watched live online through the Virginia Lottery website or social media channels. Winning numbers are also posted immediately after each drawing.

How do you claim Virginia Lottery prizes?

There are a few ways Virginia Lottery players can claim prizes depending on the prize amount:

  • Prizes Under $600 – Can be cashed at any lottery retailer, online account, or by mail
  • Prizes $601-$5,000 – Claim at any lottery office with ticket, ID, and Social Security card
  • Prizes Over $5,001 – Must be claimed in person at primary Richmond lottery office with required tax paperwork

All prizes over $100,000 also offer the option for a one-time cash value lump sum or annuity payments over 30 years.

There are several lottery customer service centers across the state that can process claims for medium-sized prizes. The main lottery headquarters in Richmond handles large jackpot claims.

Prizes must be claimed within 180 days of the draw date for a ticket to remain valid. Unclaimed prizes are returned to the Lottery fund for future games and contributions.

Is the Virginia Lottery rigged?

There is no evidence to suggest the Virginia Lottery is rigged. The Lottery utilizes stringent security protocols and practices to ensure fair drawings and winning odds. These safeguards include:

  • Testing of lottery ball machines before each drawing
  • Surveillance monitoring of all draw rooms
  • Independent auditors present to observe drawings
  • Randomized selection of lottery balls
  • Tests of lottery ball weights for consistency
  • Background checks for draw officials
  • Prohibition of lottery employee play

With billions in annual ticket sales, the Virginia Lottery is highly motivated to operate transparently and legally. Its oversight board and government regulators also require adherence to the highest standards.

While luck plays a major role, the odds of every Virginia Lottery game are made publicly available. Scratch games odds are posted on the lottery website. Draw games have verifiable mathematical odds based on the numbers drawn.

Like all lotteries, there is luck involved in winning. But diligent security and auditing measures help ensure fair outcomes free of tampering or fraud.

What is the luckiest Virginia Lottery location?

With thousands of retailers across Virginia, some stores have developed reputations for being “lucky” locations with frequent winners. However, lottery officials contend luck is randomized and no retailer location has an advantage.

That said, certain stores like the Sunrise Market in Richmond and Noblett’s in Christiansburg have gained notoriety for selling a high number of big winning tickets over the years.

The luckiest Virginia Lottery ticket may have been a 1992 scratcher sold at Mike’s Market in Dinwiddie. James Witts bought the $27 million top prize-winning ticket while buying sodas on a hot July day.

More recently, the 7-Eleven on Bennington Street in Lynchburg sold multiple major winning tickets over a short time span earning it the nickname “Lucky 7.”

While these locations have seen clustering of big winners, the Virginia Lottery maintains it is just luck. The odds of winning are the same no matter where you buy tickets.


For over 30 years, the Virginia Lottery has offered games of chance to residents in the state and helped raise billions for public education. It provides fun and entertainment to players with prizes ranging from free tickets up to mutli-million dollar jackpots.

The lottery offers an array of scratch and draw games with different price points and odds. While adding excitement, the Virginia Lottery emphasizes responsible play and age restrictions on purchasing tickets.

The state-run lottery conducts fair drawings under tight security and auditing. There is no evidence games are rigged or have altered odds. With stringent protocols, Virginians can trust the integrity of lottery games and the randomness of winning numbers.

While luck is always a factor, the Virginia Lottery gives players the chance to win big prizes that can change their lives in an instant. And even when players don’t win, their ticket purchases contribute funding to help education across the Commonwealth.