Just how have lottery jackpots risen so high?

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“We only have about 550,000 people, so it’s not that much. But from my perspective, we have an ethical duty to try to start it up right and bring in revenues for the state that we haven’t looked at before,” he said.

On ticket sales alone in 2010, Maryland collected $502 million, according to data provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Virginia collected $430 million. Data was not available for the District. Across the country that year, $53 billion in tickets were sold, and about one-third, or $18 billion, was available for states.

But Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah remain holdouts on a state lottery.

“How a state feels about legalized gambling, that’s the real question,” said David Gale, executive director of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. “To answer that question, you have to go back and decide, ‘OK, if we did that and it’s generated so much revenue, how would that money be used? What’s the value of having those services paid for by the lottery in exchange for bringing gambling, a lottery, into the state’s borders?’ “

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