V.I. Lottery Coming Up a Winner

The V.I. Lottery is in good shape, Director Conrad E. Francois II told members of the Senate Finance Committee when they met Wednesday on St. Thomas for a budget hearing.

“We’re seeing modest increases in sales and projecting a 3 percent increase,” he said.

Francois estimated total revenue for fiscal year 2011 to stand at $20.1 million. Operating expenses stand at $19.9 million, including $7 million paid out in prizes. This leaves the Lottery with a net income of $241,661. However, the Lottery must turn over to the General Fund 20 percent of the net income, which amounts to $48,332, Francois said.

The Lottery is strengthening its sales methods. Francois said that expects an automated point of sales system to come on line by Oct. 1. He said it will save the Lottery money and improve the integrity of the game by printing only the tickets that are sold. Currently, the Lottery has the Property and Procurement print about 34,000 tickets for each lottery but Francis said only about half are sold. The printing costs about $8,500.

Additionally, the new point of sales system will allow the Lottery to better keep track of total sales and reconcile dealers’ purchases, Francois said.

Francois pushed to allow video lottery terminals on St. Croix. Currently they only operate on St. Thomas and St. John.

“It would mean added revenue to the V.I. government and businesses,” he said.

Francois said a study indicated that over seven years, Video Lottery Terminals on St. Croix would general $27.5 million to $35 million for businesses and $46.3 million to $58.8 million for the local government.

The Lottery funded several endeavors to the tune of $4.5 million in fiscal year 2011. They include the Education Imitative Fund, which Francois projected would get $1.7 million in 2012. The Lottery also funds the Pharmaceutical Assistance Fund and the Government Employees Retirement System bonus program. Another $474,432 goes to the Horse Racing Improvement Fund.

According to Francois, the seven-member Lottery board is short three members. The seats must be filled by one lottery dealer from the St. Thomas/St. John District and one “citizen” each from St. Thomas and St. John. Senators urged anyone interested what has the appropriate skills to apply.

Under questioning by Sen. Janette Millin-Young, Francis said that last year, more than $400,000 a year in prize money went unclaimed.

In addition to Millin-Young, and Sen. Carlton Dowe, who chaired the meeting, Sens. Patrick Simeon Sprauve, Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly and Celestino White attended the meeting.

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