Rhode Island Lottery turns 50: A golden legacy of games and wins

We interviewed Rhode Island Lottery Director Mark Furcolo as they reach fifty years of making dreams come true in the Ocean State.

Rhode Island Lottery turns 50: A golden legacy of games and wins

The Rhode Island Lottery is turning 50!  Five decades of bringing excitement and financial benefits to the state are being celebrated with a year of special events and player appreciation.

From the electrifying atmosphere of the first live drawing in 1974 to the convenience of today's online games, the lottery has become a woven thread in Rhode Island's history.

A captivating beginning

The Lot, the very first game, kicked off the Rhode Island Lottery's journey on May 21, 1974. The inaugural drawing held on the Statehouse lawn with the public watching was a spectacle. 

Rhode Island Lottery Director Mark Furcolo described the scene to Lottery USA:

It was the number one selling lottery in the country, selling tickets to 95 percent of the state's population in the first week.

These live weekly drawings, filled with anticipation and extra prizes for the audience, were even broadcast on WPRI. Today, the Rhode Island Lottery offers a variety of draw games – Keynote, Bingo, Day Numbers, and Wild Money – keeping the excitement alive.

Celebrating 50 years of "Good Plays"

As the Rhode Island Lottery celebrates 50 years, Director Furcolo has a heartfelt message for Rhode Island:

We've had 50 years of 'good plays' and we're looking forward to the next 50.

The anniversary year is filled with celebrations for players. Special promotions on popular games offer increased chances to win. Here are some of the special promotions:

  • Powerball and beyond: Look for special promotions on popular draw games like Powerball. These offers could give you more entries or increased chances to win that life-changing jackpot.
  • Wilder wild money: For the entire month of May, celebrate with an extra $50,000 added to every Wild Money jackpot!  This in-state jackpot game just got even wilder.

The celebrations extend beyond online play. Many Rhode Island Lottery retailers are hosting in-store events throughout the year.

There are special edition instant games offering second-chance opportunities:

  • Play and enter:  All non-winning $2, $5, and $10 "50 Years" Anniversary Instant Games (look for Game Numbers 1420, 1422, and 1423) are eligible for a second-chance drawing.  Even if you don't win instantly, your ticket could be your key to a life-changing prize!
  • Second chance top prizes:  In addition to the main second-chance drawing, there's an extra chance to win for each 50 Years game. Enter your non-winning $2 ticket for a shot at the $5,000 top prize, your $5 ticket for the $30,000 top prize, and your $10 ticket for the $50,000 top prize.
  • The Big Event: The culmination of the second-chance drawings is a special event at Bally's Twin River Lincoln on December 19, 2024. Four lucky winners will get to play a pick-until-you-win style game with guaranteed prizes ranging from a cool $10,000 all the way up to a life-changing $1 million.

Bonus Hours are also back for June as they celebrate the 50 anniversary. Play with the online Bonus Hours promotion every Tuesday to June 25.  From 4- 8 p.m., players can make a single wager of $2 or more on any eInstant or Keno game online and automatically get $5 in iLottery bonus money.

Innovation through the years

The Rhode Island Lottery has constantly adapted to meet player preferences. Instant tickets, like Play Ball, the first one, joined the lineup, offering the thrill of a win on the spot. Draw games expanded beyond state lines with multi-state options.

Technology revolutionized, with e-Instants, sports betting, and an online platform adding convenience for players. The Rhode Island Lottery even partnered with Bally's to bring two casinos and iGaming to Rhode Island, offering a wider range of entertainment experiences.

The future of the Rhode Island Lottery is all about staying ahead of the curve.

Furcolo said:

We are working on a platform upgrade for our website and mobile app to allow players to buy even more of our products online.

These advancements will offer players more online options and fun features like scanning tickets to enter for second chances. Developing partnerships with retailers will create even more exciting experiences for everyone.

Big wins, big impact

The Rhode Island Lottery has minted countless millionaires. One unforgettable moment was a Newport woman winning a staggering $336.4 million Powerball jackpot in 2012, the largest at that time.

Furcolo recalled:

The media trucks camped outside in the parking lot and others called daily waiting for the winner to claim.

This media frenzy, along with another big win a month later, a $60 million Powerball jackpot, highlights the life-changing impact the lottery can have.

But the impact goes far beyond individual winners. The Rhode Island Lottery has transferred almost $9 billion to the state's General Fund. This money supports vital services and programs for Rhode Islanders. Winners have received over $57 billion in prizes, and businesses have benefited from more than $6 billion, including commissions for retailers and sponsorships.

The Rhode Island Lottery stands out for its resourcefulness. Being one of the smallest lotteries in the country means a smaller budget and team. But as Furcolo said:

We work extra hard with less!

This dedication shows – Rhode Island offers a diverse range of games enjoyed by generations of players.

Overcoming challenges

The Rhode Island Lottery's success story isn't without its hurdles. One key challenge is the destination of lottery funds. 

In Rhode Island, the money raised by the lottery is turned over to the State's General Fund. This differs from some states where proceeds are earmarked for specific causes.

Furcolo explained:

States where the money is earmarked for a specific cause may have an easier time creating that feel good message.

In Rhode Island, the focus often shifts to the positive impact on winners and retailers.

Another hurdle is the state's size. Being one of the smallest lotteries in the country means a smaller budget and team. Rhode Island's smaller size and population means the Lottery needs to be cost-conscious to offer competitive products.

Despite these limitations, the Rhode Island Lottery has persevered.

Furcolo emphasized:

We're proud of the portfolio of games and winning experiences we've been able to give our players.

This dedication to resourcefulness and a focus on player experience are hallmarks of the Rhode Island Lottery's achievements.

50 years of achievements

The Rhode Island Lottery is celebrating 50 years of exciting games, life-changing wins, and giving back to the state. From the electrifying atmosphere of the first live drawing to the convenience of today's online options, the lottery has become a Rhode Island tradition.


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