The Georgia Lottery started offering online ticket sales for some games on Sunday, a cultural shift in a state where leaders have long opposed expanding gambling. Experts say it’s hard for states to turn away the potential new revenue and resistance to gambling is getting weaker.
Authorities say a $49 million winning lottery ticket has been sold in south Georgia. With many lottery players focused on a record $500 Powerball jackpot that has yet to be won, the winning Georgia ticket matched all six numbers from a Tuesday night drawing in another game, Mega Millions.
State officials overseeing the HOPE scholarship told legislators Monday that by 2016, the college scholarship will cover less than half of the University of Georgia’s tuition and fees if lottery proceeds remain constant. Officials say the lottery would need $100 million more a year to avoid that scenario.
Georgia Lottery officials say sales have exceeded $3.5 billion for the fourth year in a row. Lottery President and CEO Margaret DeFrancisco said despite a tough economy, the lottery only experienced about a 1 percent dip in sales.
A sweeping overhaul of the state's lottery-funded HOPE scholarship has rapidly cleared two hurdles in the Georgia Legislature. The House Appropriations Committee approved the bill 60-2 Thursday morning soon after the higher education subcomittee signed off on it.