Local Mega Millions winner could mean windfall for ailing governments
Tonight, some lucky person might win the $355 million Mega Million multi-state lottery jackpot, which is sold in the District, Maryland and Virginia, among other states. And while thousands of people across the region are lining up to buy tickets, there's a reason to root for an area resident even if you don't personally win: A local winner could mean a serious windfall for government treasuries in dire need of help these days.
In the District, a sole winner who accepts the lump cash payment of $224.2 million would pump a full $19 million into the coffers of a city anticipating a fiscal 2012 shortfall of $400 million or more, via an 8.5 percent withholding for income tax. (That's after the feds take 25 percent, or $76.8 million.)
In Maryland, where lawmakers must close a $1.6 billion gap, a sole winner opting for up-front cash would send $20.7 million into the state treasury, via a 9.25 percent withholding.
And in Virginia, where Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) needs to find $191 million in savings, a 4 percent withholding would raise just shy of $9 million.
"We could definitely use it," said Buddy Roogow, executive director of the D.C. Lottery.
Unfortunately the chances aren't great: Mega Millions is sold by 40 other jurisdictions besides the three in the Washington area. And the high interest in the record jackpots means more players are playing more numbers, increasing the chances of a split pot.
But Roogow said that even if a D.C. resident doesn't hit it big, the jackpot has been good for city coffers. "People are buying other things [at lottery agents]; it's good for the retailers," he said.
Photo by Michael Bolden/The Washington Post
| January 4, 2011; 4:10 PM ET
Categories: Maryland, The District, Virginia
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