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Georgia lottery rakes in $1.24B, powering through pandemic

July 15, 2020 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic is no match for lottery players.

The Georgia Lottery Corp. said that profits delivered to the state hit a new record of $1.24 billion for the budget year ended June 30. That continued a rebound after sales had initially dropped in March at the onset of COVID-19 restrictions.

It’s the ninth straight year that the lottery has set sales and profit records. Proceeds from the lottery finance college aid called Hope Scholarships and preschool classes. Lawmakers had initially asked agencies to look at cuts in that spending, but left it intact as lottery sales rebounded.

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Brad Bohannon, the Georgia Lottery Corp.’s Vice President Brad Bohannon told lawmakers in May that use of the lottery’s online options, which allow people to buy tickets and play dozens of online gambling games at home, had jumped 50% in April and early May.

The lottery said Tuesday that most of its retailers remained open, and that it benefited because other forms of entertainment were limited. Sports betting and casino gambling remain illegal in Georgia, with lawmakers spurning efforts to legalize them again this year.

Lottery President and CEO Gretchen Corbin said the performance was especially noteworthy because a record $1.5 billion jackpot in the multistate MegaMillions lottery in 2019 had fueled huge sales.

“Our team has been laser focused on delivering the greatest amount possible to the state in a year where we first focused on outpacing 2019, the year of one of the largest jackpots in history, and then added COVID-19 challenges to our goal to surmount,” Corbin said in a statement.