With the Mega Millions craze sweeping the country in recent weeks, how have public schools benefited? According to lottery advertising, one of the benefits of this form of gambling is generating funding for public schools
. While it sounds good on paper, how much benefit do lotteries really offer to public school systems? It turns out the answer to that question may be much more complex than it appears on the surface.
An Overview of Lotteries
According to the website for the Georgia Lottery
system, lottery is a “game of chance in which players have an equal opportunity to win prizes.” The first American lottery was held in Jamestown in 1612, and it made up half the entire budget the early settlers needed to build their colony. Lotteries were used by President George Washington to support the Revolutionary War, and Thomas Jefferson used them to fund a variety of public projects.
Lotteries have traditionally been used to support public works projects like building and street construction, as well as education and environmental projects. Today’s lotteries utilize the latest technology to allow players the choice between instant tickets and online games, as well as the standard lottery drawing games. Prizes for lotteries have also become more extravagant, as evidenced with the recent Mega Millions game that has made headlines in states like Virginia, California and North Carolina.
Where does Lottery Money Go?
The proceeds from lotteries can go to a variety of venues, as determined by the state. Many states boast that lottery revenues go directly to public education budgets, benefitting the children who live there first and foremost. For the most part, those claims are correct, although they can be somewhat misleading. Still, no one can argue millions – and even billions – of additional dollars have gone into state education budgets as a result of lottery participation.
Virginia Schools Cleaning Up
According to a report at the Washington Post
, Virginia generated nearly $22 million in revenue just from the Mega Millions game alone. All of those proceeds reportedly go directly into the state’s...