ROCKY HILL, Conn. — Army radar veteran and retired sports store owner Bill Carroll is crazy about keno.

On the bar table at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9460 in Stratford, a red, white and pink keno ticket rested last Friday between his hands, taking a stab from his No. 2 pencil after numbers flickered on a screen above a rack of liquor bottles.

“I had a shot at $500,” he said, eyeing the screen through gold-rimmed glasses from beneath a black Yankees cap.

Carroll was quick to answer questions, but short on words.

What would he do with $500? “Spend it.”

What would he do with $150,000 – like the winning ticket the VFW post sold a few weeks ago? “Save it.”

Carroll enjoys the game, but it’s the state that’s the big winner with the Connecticut Lottery.

After a third winning Powerball ticket went unclaimed Thursday – the day the ticket expired – the money was moved into the state’s General Fund. That ticket – worth a million bucks for matching five Powerball numbers in the Feb. 20 drawing – was sold in Tolland County.

Two other unclaimed $1 million Powerball prizes from tickets sold in Fairfield County have already been transferred to the fund, which is used for such state services as education, health care and public safety.

“Right into the governor’s pocket,” Carroll said to the reporter and a half-dozen veterans nursing their beers. “They don’t even tell you about the smaller (prizes) that go unclaimed.”

Carroll would prefer that the lottery return unclaimed funds to the prize pool, or spend them “directly for education.”

The unclaimed $3 million in Powerball prizes come after the Connecticut Lottery Commission had a record fiscal year in 2015-16, with sales estimated at $1.2 billion – between $78 and $80 million more than the previous year.

Two days before the fiscal year ended June 30, Anne Noble, president and CEO of the Connecticut Lottery, told the commission’s Board of Directors that the year produced “absolutely ginormous results.”

Noble said at the meeting that increased revenue was helped by a number of factors, including the successful launch of a keno game that provided the corporation with $10 to $12 million in revenue in a two-month period.

It was also a “blockbuster year,” she said, for instant games (which generate about two-thirds of all lottery sales), and daily drawing games.

An improving economy and gas prices below $3 a gallon also helped fuel lottery sales, especially for instant tickets.

It’s hard to imagine enthusiastic players failing to claim a winning, million-dollar ticket. But state lottery spokesman Derek Wong said that no one claimed the Tolland County ticket.

Unlike other state lotteries that release specific locations – or at least the name of the community where a winning ticket was sold – the Connecticut Lottery only releases the name of county after the numbers are drawn. Only after the 180-day expiration date passes does the lottery disclose the name of the retailer and town where the ticket was sold.

The lottery does try to get the word out that a big winning ticket will soon expire by printing notices on lottery tickets, posting signs at retailer stores, taking out advertisements, and through social media. And it encourages people to check their tickets immediately after the drawing at a retailer or via a mobile app.

The state’s lottery games have been managed by the Connecticut Lottery Commission, a quasi-state agency, since July 1996.

Since the lottery began in February 1972, the games have generated sales of about $25.9 billion and paid approximately $8.5 billion to the General Fund.

While a final report of the Connecticut Lottery’s banner year has not yet been published, details were included in the draft minutes of its June 28 meeting at the commission’s headquarters in Rocky Hill.

According to minutes of the meeting, Noble said “These results lead to big expectations for FY17.”

She added, “The CLC is happy to be to play a role in helping to resolve the state’s fiscal crisis.”

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.