Editorial: Lottery changes needed to boost revenues
BY World's Editorials Writers
Thursday, September 20, 2012
9/20/12 at 3:51 AM
State lottery officials predicted Wednesday that revenue from Oklahoma's lottery will decline by $17.2 million from 2013 to 2014. That will mean less money for common and higher education, which are the lottery's primary beneficiaries.
How can this happen, given the fact that nationally, lotteries seem to be more popular than ever?
The problem is that Oklahoma's lottery is hamstrung by a requirement that 35 cents out of every dollar received in ticket sales must go to education. That limits the size of prizes that it can pay to winners, and the result is that Oklahoma's lottery just can't compete with those in surrounding states.
Easing the 35 percent requirement would allow the lottery commission to put more money into prize payouts, which would generate more sales. So while the percentage take to education would decrease, the actual dollar amount would increase.
Experience in every state is that lotteries require constant promotion and higher prize payouts in order to maintain their early success.
Legislators know what needs to be done, but they refuse to do it. The Republican majority in the Legislature has always tried to paint the lottery as a Democrats' deal - blaming former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry in particular - despite the fact that Oklahoma voters approved the lottery by a fairly wide margin.
The fact is, lottery proceeds to education - about $500 million total since it began in 2005 - amount to a tiny portion of state education funding. But in this day and age, every penny for education is of crucial importance.
Original Print Headline: Lottery lags