The 30-Year History Of The Texas Lottery

Written By Darren Cooper on June 13, 2022
Over 15 Million Texas Lottery Winnings

Wearing a sharp matching pantsuit and her hair pushed back in a wave, Ann Richards showed up at Polk’s Feed Store in Oak Hill just before 6 a.m. a little more than 30 years ago to do something no one in Texas had ever done.

Buy a scratch-off lottery ticket

The legend says that then-Governor Richards’s ticket was dry May 29, 1992. But the Texas Lottery has made the state a big winner for the last 30 years. 

The Texas Lottery has generated more than $34 billion in revenue for education, veterans services and state projects. 

It set a record during the fiscal year of 2021 with $8.107 billion in sales, the 11th year in a row it had set such a mark.

Like everything else in Texas, the Lottery is bigger. The Texas Lottery currently offers nine weekly or daily jackpot drawings. It offers 67 current scratch-off games (neighboring Louisiana has 32). It has celebrated its 30th anniversary with multiple new games and offers.

“We take our mission to generate revenue for the State of Texas through the responsible mgmt. and sale of entertaining lottery products very seriously. The 30-year mark at the Texas Lottery is a major milestone and indeed worthy of a celebration,” said Texas Lottery Commission Director Robert G. Rivera in a release noting the anniversary.

The first day to play

The idea of a Texas Lottery started back in July of 1991 in the state legislature. It was House Bill 54, if you’re looking for a lucky number.

The bill passed a vote in November of that year but needed ratification by the state’s constituents, who agreed to the measure by a nearly 2-to-1 count. Susan Holton created the well-known, still-used logo of a tossed Cowboy hat and confetti in celebration.

Lone Star Millions was the first scratch-off game. Tickets went on sale 47 days earlier than expected and found a ravenous Texas audience. 

The first day of sales were reported as $23.2 million, a then-world record. In the first week, over $102.4 million worth of tickets were sold, another world record at the time. The first Texas Lotto drawing was Nov. 7, eight weeks ahead of schedule.

The Texas Lottery was off and running.

Special games and prizes make Texas Lottery shine

While other states keep their scratch-off tickets at low price points, Texas goes bigger.

In 2004, the Texas Lottery Commissioner offered a $30 scratch-and-win card: Holiday Million Wishes. In 2007, Texas became the first U.S. state to offer a $50 scratch-off ticket and added to that roster in 2009 with the $50 dollar Extreme Payout game with three top prizes of $10 million each.

Chump change. In May, the Texas Lottery Commission introduced the first US lottery scratch ticket for $100, the $20 Million Supreme. The jackpot is four cash prizes of $20 million.

Like I said, even the scratch-off tickets are bigger in Texas.

The current jackpot drawings offered in Texas are the multi-state Powerball and Mega Millions drawings. Texas also still offers the original Texas Lotto, the Texas Two Step, All or Nothing, Pick 3, Daily 4 and Cash 5 games.

The All Or Nothing concept has been adopted by other communities. A buyer picks 12 numbers out of 24. If they hit all 12, they win. If they don’t get any of the 12, they also win.

Where does the money go?

Starting in 2009, the legislature directed the Texas Lottery Commission to create a scratch-off ticket solely for providing revenue for the Texas Veterans Commission Fund. That game has now provided over $181 million for veterans programs through grants and Veterans service organizations.

The majority of the Texas Lottery revenue goes back to the players to a tune of 66.8 percent. 5.3 percent is pushed back to the retailers who sell the tickets, 3.3 percent pays for the Lottery Administration crew.

That leaves 24.3 percent for the Texas Foundation School Fund, which is used for public education institutions in the state.

Darren Cooper Avatar
Written by
Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He's won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

View all posts by Darren Cooper