DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - A year of record-high sales for the Ohio Lottery means its highest payout yet for public schools: $771 million.
The lottery topped $2.7 billion in sales for the fiscal year that ended June 30, up from $2.6 billion the previous year. Lottery sales in Ohio have increased for the past 11 years, with the previous record profit transfer of $748.8 million set in 1997, according to the lottery.
By law, lottery profits are given to the Ohio Department of Education to support schools. The funding amounts to about 6 percent of the department's general revenue budget of $7.6 million but could be more significant amid cost-cutting and declining revenues in many districts.
A record Mega Millions jackpot earlier this year helped Ohio lottery sales reach a new high.
"Every dollar counts, so any money is important money to the department, especially this year," said Department of Education spokeswoman Patti Grey.
Preliminary unaudited figures show sales were up by $133 million from the previous fiscal year, not including video lottery terminal sales.
The sales for last fiscal year were helped by a record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March.
"That pretty much boosted sales across the board in the lottery industry in the United States," said Marie Kilbane, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Lottery.
Sales of Powerball tickets, another multistate game introduced in Ohio in April 2010, also helped increase overall sales. Powerball sales were up 38 percent to $105 million in the last fiscal year.
"When you have more states getting involved you have the possibility of growing the jackpots much higher," Kilbane said.
Interest in some of the oldest games, including Pick 3 and Pick 4, has begun to decline some. Sales of the oldest online game, Pick 3, fell 2 percent to $357 million in the last fiscal year, while Pick 4 sales dropped about 1 percent. But the two games combined still accounted for 21 percent of total lottery sales.
The opening of Ohio's four new casinos also could decrease sales. Casinos opened in May in Cleveland and Toledo.
The third one is set to open in Columbus this fall, with the fourth scheduled to open early next year in Cincinnati.