The Kentucky lottery has reached a new milestone, and officials say the games have helped the state provide billions of dollars in college scholarships and grants in the past 25 years.
The first lottery tickets were sold in April 1989 to then-Gov. Wallace Wilkinson. Since then, lottery sales have totaled more than $15.2 billion, and lottery players have received nearly $9.2 billion in prizes. More than $4 billion in profit has been used for scholarships, education, literacy programs, affordable housing and Vietnam veteran bonuses.
Lottery sales were predicted to provide $65 million annually for the state, but last year, sales netted more than three times that amount -- more than $223 million.
Kentucky lottery proceeds began going to college scholarship and grant programs 15 years ago. More than $2 billion in proceeds has been used for that purpose.
The Kentucky Lottery Corporation is moving ahead with a new Keno game and online lottery sales, in hopes the games will be profitable.
The lottery board hopes to generate $85 million dollars a year with the new games by 2023.
State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach spearheaded the effort to expand to Keno and online sales as a way to help generate more revenue for the state. He says the implementation will take time, but money should start coming in shortly afterward.
"So you're probably not going to see anything of any significance until 2014. It takes a little while."
State House Democrats have said additional lottery revenues could pay for the state's underfunded pension system. Finding a way to fund pension reforms has been a major cause of disagreement in Frankfort this year.