03/26/2012 11:28 am ET

Online Illinois Lottery Ticket Sales Boom, Generate $8,000 First Day

Illinois became the first state to sell lottery tickets online Sunday morning, and from the response so far, it seems like the revenue-generating move will live up to its promise.

Ticket sales exploded over the weekend, with more than 1,600 purchased on Sunday alone, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The first ticket was bought minutes after the website went live, at 7:03 a.m.

Sales topped $9,000, according to the Associated Press, and officials say they predict the fast-paced sales will continue through Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing for more than $350 million.

Illinois approved the online sale of lottery tickets in light of the city's current financial woes, hoping the shift would expand the market and help funnel more cash into schools and capital projects, for which state lottery income is earmarked.

Illinois Lottery superintendent Michael Jones chalked up the new sales format to smart business, noting that many consumers have shifted into web-centric shopping habits.

"The lottery is the same as it was 30 years ago, but the retail environment has changed dramatically," Jones told The Huffington Post. "A great deal of retail now lives on the Internet. And the technology is there to allow the lottery to live there, too. I think it's essential to the state for the lottery to stay on the cutting edge of technology, and it has the added benefit of helping the lottery achieve its purpose: having a large number of people play a little."

The website uses age and geo-locating verification programs to enforce age and residency restrictions in online sales, Jones said. Winners who purchased their tickets online will be investigated to ensure only eligible players have access to online ticket sales.