Capitol Alert

Want to win the lottery? Some places pay out more than others

When it comes to California Lottery numbers, “1021295” could be in a winning league of its own.

It isn’t a combination of lucky Powerball, Mega Millions or Fantasy 5 digits. That’s the ID for the business that’s sold the most big-dollar winning lottery tickets since 2009, according to several years of prize data provided to The Sacramento Bee.

Primm Valley Lotto in Nipton sold 670 $600-and-up winning lottery tickets from 2009 through late summer of this year, totaling almost $28 million in payouts.

Located on the edge of the Mojave Desert along Interstate 15, the business is a short drive from Nevada, where scratch and lottery tickets are not available. Many Silver State residents buy tickets there, and often spend hours in line when jackpots are high. In second place was Bluebird Liquor in Hawthorne, which sold 649 winning tickets during that time.

The businesses are among thousands of restaurants, doughnut shops, gas stations and other retailers that are the backbone of the voter-approved California Lottery franchise. In return, retailers get a commission on winning tickets and other bonuses.

Some lottery retailers stand out for total prizes paid out.

A 7-Eleven in Chino Hills has sold 73 $600-and-up lottery tickets totaling more than $247 million in winnings, for an average prize of almost $3.4 million. Skewing that average, though, is that one of the winning tickets represented a share of last year’s $1.6 billion Powerball bonanza.

Mae and Marvin Acosta of Eastvale, in Riverside County, had purchased their winning ticket in January 2016, but didn’t come forward for several months, according to a lottery press release. They got their financial affairs in order before claiming $247,095,596 in prize money after federal taxes. The winning ticket also earned the store owners a $1 million payday.

Lottery ticket sales, meanwhile, continue their post-recession rebound.

In the budget year that ended last June, the lottery sold $6.4 billion in tickets and paid out $4.1 billion in prizes. That compares to $4.37 billion in sales and about $2.6 billion in prizes in 2011-12.

Since the 1984 campaign that legalized it, the lottery’s main selling point has been that it generates money for schools.

From October 1985 through mid-2016, the lottery has raised almost $31 billion for education, including about $1.59 billion in the budget year ending June 30, 2016. That represents about 2.5 percent of state and local funding for K-12 schools in 2016-17.

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