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Georgia Lottery sales booming amid coronavirus pandemic

January 11, 2016, Atlanta: Tim Baldwin walks off after adding a "B" to a Georgia Lottery billboard near Turner Field on Monday afternoon January 11, 2016 to reflect the Powerball jackpot which has grown to $1.4 billion after nobody won Saturday night's drawing. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com
January 11, 2016, Atlanta: Tim Baldwin walks off after adding a "B" to a Georgia Lottery billboard near Turner Field on Monday afternoon January 11, 2016 to reflect the Powerball jackpot which has grown to $1.4 billion after nobody won Saturday night's drawing. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

Credit: BEN GRAY / AJC

Credit: BEN GRAY / AJC

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t kept Georgians from trying their luck playing the lottery.

Brad Bohannon, a Georgia Lottery executive, told a state House committee Tuesday that ticket sales declined in March.

But once players became more familiar with buying tickets online, and with retailers like convenience stores staying open during the partial pandemic shutdown, ticket sales quickly rebounded.

Bohannon noted that many other forms of entertainment - such as sports - were shut down in April.

“April sales rebounded extremely well,” he said, setting a record for the month. “We have seen that April trend continue into May.”

Lottery officials are projecting about a $1.113 billion return in ticket sale money to the state this fiscal year - which ends June 30 - to pay for  HOPE scholarships and pre-kindergarten classes.

That would be down from last year’s record $1.21 billion, he said, but April and May sales have made up ground after a slow March. With May sales continuing to be strong, that $1.113 billion projection for fiscal 2020 may be increased in a few weeks.

Much of the economy was shut down in late March,  through April. The state reported last week that tax collections - mostly from income and sales taxes - were down about 36% in April.

But, as in the case of the lottery, Georgians found a way to continue doing some of the things they liked to do. Alcohol and cigarette tax collections were also up 13% and 37%, respectively, in April.