NASHVILLE - Let the games begin!
Today, the Tennessee Lottery's first tickets went on sale at 12:01 a.m. local times, officially making it one of the fastest and most-effective lottery startups in U.S. history.
By the time the games went on sale, the Lottery had shipped 47 million tickets to nearly 3,500 retail outlets, from Memphis to Mountain City.
Retailers reported brisk sales during the first hours following kickoff. The first instant win ticket in the amount of $2 was cashed at 12:03 a.m. Eastern Time at Tellico Pride, 141 Bank Street in Tellico Plains.
Lottery retailer-service representatives manned phone lines throughout the night, fielding calls with last-minute questions about Lottery games and equipment.
At 10 a.m. Central Time, Governor Phil Bredesen and sponsors of the Lottery legislation, State Senator Steve Cohen and State Representative Chris Newton, joined Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Paul for an up-close look at first-day sales at Florence Station, an independent retail outlet in Murfreesboro.
Bredesen commended the Lottery's Board of Directors and employees for a successful startup that came three weeks earlier than expected. "Short term, this early startup will generate millions of extra dollars for college scholarships," Bredesen said. "Long term, the Lottery should be a stable source of scholarship funding for years to come."
He added: "The Board, the management and the entire Lottery organization should feel proud of how much they've accomplished in a relatively short period of time."
By late morning, Paul said initial ticket sales appeared strong statewide and that players already were winning and redeeming prizes. First-day sales will be announced on Wednesday, she added, and major-prize winners will be announced as soon as possible.
"We're looking forward to providing fun and entertainment for Tennessee players," Paul said. "Most importantly, we're excited about generating dollars for education programs in the Volunteer State."
Players and retailers can find more information on the Tennessee Lottery at www.tnlottery.com. Additionally, players with questions can call the Lottery's Player Hotline at (877) 7TN-PLAY (786-7529). Retailers can call the Retailer Hotline at (800) 826-4311.
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