Are your favorite DC Lottery games paying you or the city? Which games paid out more?

Throughout the years the DC Lottery has entertained residents, suburban commuters and visitors, at the same time generating revenue for the city. On Saturday, April 11, DC’s Lottery Executive Director Buddy Roogow passed away after spending over five years with the agency. We would like to express our sincere condolences to his family and colleagues while at the same time looking at the historical trend of prize payouts and transfers to the city’s General Fund.  This post is dedicated to him.


A look at the financials shows that, DC Lottery’s prize payout ratio during the past 12 fiscal years has remained within a range of 51 to 57 percent of sales, each fiscal year, whereas transfers to the city’s General Fund stayed within a 25 to 30 percent range. So, yes, more is being paid out! But, which games paid more; here is a quick look at the prize payout data from the last three fiscal years.

Hope this gives you a clue to the top paying games, what remains is your luck.

Lottery2 Lottery3

What exactly is this data?

The prize payout information is from DC Lottery’s annual report and audited financial report. We used the District’s System of Accounting and Reporting (SOAR) to obtain information on transfers to the city. DC-3 is a three-digit game with three ways to play and nine ways to win. Prizes vary from $25 to $500. DC Four is a four-digit game that features eleven ways to win and a top prize of $5,000. More information is available at

What percentage of the District’s revenue is from federal dollars?

On  February 25, Pew released a study on the proportion of federal funds in each state’s total revenue between fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2013.  The study uses the Annual Survey of State Government Finances  and shows that the federal share of total state revenue reverted back from near historic highs during the Great Recession to historical norms in fiscal year 2013.

To our dismay, the U.S. Census did not release comparative revenue data for the District of Columbia, so we compiled the data ourselves to see how the District would compare to the rest of the country.

Calculating the District’s federal revenue is not as easy as it seems.  The District – like every other state – receives project based grants and formula based grants.  It differs in that it receives additional contributions from the federal government – including payments to administer the District’s court system and payments to offset unusual costs incurred as a result of the federal government’s use of the District (the Revitalization Act of 1997 specifies these payments).

Using the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is an annual audit of the District’s finances, and by totaling federal contributions to the District’s court system, we calculated the District’s federal share of total revenue between fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2013.

The graph below shows the percentage of District revenue that was federal dollars since fiscal year 2000 and draws a comparison with the total 50 state federal share.  The District’s federal share of total revenue is historically one of the highest in the country.  This seems to be primarily driven by the District’s unique status as the nation’s capital, high concentration of poverty, and federally operated court system.

Overall Comparison
We also compared the District’s federal share of total revenue to both Maryland and Virginia.  The District’s federal share in fiscal year 2013 was the highest in the region and was larger than Virginia (22.9%)  and Maryland (28.6%).  The District was the highest in the region every year since 2000 with two exceptions – fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2012 – when we were overtaken by Maryland.

Neighbor Comparison
Overall the District had the 31st highest federal share of total revenue in the country in fiscal year 2013.  This was a large drop from its peak in fiscal year 2000 when the District had the seventh highest share in the country.  Here’s how the District compared to every state in fiscal year 2013:All States

What exactly is this data? We used data from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for every year starting in 2000 through 2013 to obtain total revenue and federal government contributions.  In order to calculate federal spending on the District’s judicial system, we collected information from the District of Columbia Budget Request Act and the Budget of the United States Government starting  in fiscal year 2000 through fiscal year 2013.  Federal share percentages for all 50 states were collected from Pew Research and the U.S. Census Annual Survey of State Government Finances.

District’s special purpose funds

This week we will issue our updated report on special-purpose revenue funds, and you will find in it interesting information on how we budget for various government services. Here is a preview:

  •  D.C. government agencies administer almost 200 special purpose revenue funds. These funds hold fines, fees, and other revenues set aside for particular programs and activities.
  • The Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund is one example: It holds the 5-cent bag fee. (It also holds the contributions from taxpayers we covered here.) The money can only be used to pay for the cleaning and protection of the Anacostia River.  Sometimes agencies get to keep the money in the funds across the years, and other times, they give up what they cannot spend, and the residual funds go to the District’s fund balance.
  • The revenues set aside for specific uses in these funds are significant. In fiscal year 2013, special-purpose revenues totaled $469 million, or 7 percent of total general-fund revenues.


D.C. lawmakers repealed several dozen of these funds in 2011, but since then the number of special-purpose funds has once again been growing. Our report identified eight new special-purpose funds that were established in 2013 and 12 new funds that were established in 2014.

Why do we see so many revenue streams dedicated for a particular use?  There are some advantages: First, under some circumstances, it makes sense to link fees to the services received.  This way, those who benefit from a service pay for it and the programs expenditures are, too, kept under control.  A good example is the fees we pay for motor vehicle inspection, which are used to pay for the administrative costs of the inspection program.    Second, because the revenues are dedicated to a particular program, special purpose revenue funds create a continuous source of revenue from year to year  since the program budgets are on auto-pilot.

However, we find that some special-purpose funds accumulate significant balances while others generate little revenue: 13 active funds did not record any revenue during FY 2013 and five others recorded less than $10,000 in revenue that year.