In 1986, Florida voters enthusiastically approved a constitutional amendment authorizing a lottery by a two-to-one margin. When the Florida Lottery began ticket sales on January 12, 1988, it became the first Southern state to launch a lottery.
The Lottery’s debut was a harbinger of great things to come – not only did sales begin six days ahead of schedule, but that first game, the MILLIONAIRE scratch ticket, set an industry record with more than $95 million in sales in the first 12 days. It was so successful that in just 17 days, the Lottery paid in full its startup loan of $15.5 million, plus interest.
Not resting on its laurels, Florida quickly launched its first two draw games on April 29, 1988, Florida Lotto and Cash 3. Lottery fever followed, resulting in a then-world record lotto jackpot of $55 million in early September, and a single winner claimed the top prize. A year later, another record was set with a $106.5 million jackpot.
Today, the Florida Lottery is one of the top-selling lotteries in North America, and became the third to surpass $4 billion in annual sales during fiscal 2011. Along with current versions of its original two draw games, the Florida Lottery now offers Powerball, Fantasy 5, Mega Money, Play 4 and Lucky Lines. Its instant portfolio includes some 60 different games in the marketplace at any given time.
As sales grew, so have revenues, and the Lottery remains a dependable contributor to education. More than one $1 billion in each of the past ten fiscal years has benefitted Florida students and public schools, colleges and universities statewide; the revenue accounts for approximately six percent of the state’s total education budget.
Pre-kindergarten projects have directly affected the youngest Florida citizens, and thousands of K-12 students reap the benefits of Lottery dollars every school day. The Bright Futures Scholarship Program provides financial aid for higher education, and colleges and universities have received Lottery revenue to help keep them running and affordable to Florida students.
Lottery dollars have also funded School Recognition and Merit Programs for improved schools, and have helped build and renovate nearly 800 schools through the Classrooms First and Classrooms for Kids programs.
Year established: 1987
Instant games, 3-digit game, 4-digit game, Fantasy 5 (matrix: 5/36), Mega Money (matrix: 4/44 + Megaball 1/22), Florida Lotto (matrix: 6/53), Powerball and Raffle game.
Beneficiaries: Florida’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund benefitting public schools, community colleges, state universities, and student financial aid for Florida students. The 1986 referendum to amend the state constitution to make a lottery legal passed by nearly a two- to-one margin.