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.
The Washington Post report states that the Virginia Lottery generates as much as $1.2 million per day for the state’s public school system. During 2011, the lottery brought in more than $444 million for public schools – which makes up about eight percent of public funding for the school system overall. On the surface at least, it looks like Virginia schools are the really big winner in the state’s lottery gaming.
North Carolina Beats Recession with Lottery Revenue
“They’d be in worse shape than they are,” Rep. Bill Owens (D-Elizabeth City) told the Fay Observer. “We’d have a bigger hole than we do have.”
The website for the North Carolina Education Lottery shows the breakdown of how the money has been spent, covering everything from teacher salaries and pre-K programs to financial aid and scholarship funding. The state legislature has the authority to adjust allocation percentages each year as needed.
Mega Millions Provides Windfall for California Schools
California was another state that hit it big in lottery revenue, particularly with the recent Mega Millions game. ABC Local reports that for every dollar spent on Mega Millions lottery tickets, schools receive 32 cents. The total amount of revenue could exceed $100 million, according to some estimates, which could save up to 1,000 teaching jobs that are currently on the chopping block.
“With this current Mega Millions run, we’re going to be pretty close to our all-time high as far as what we’ve given schools in any given year,” Alex Traverso, a California Lottery representative, told ABC.
Show Them the Money
With states like these boasting huge windfalls in lottery revenues, it seems hard to believe that some of these states are the same ones that are in the midst of major cuts to their education budgets. If the lotteries are thriving, why aren’t the schools improving as well?
While there is no doubt that lottery revenues do generate funding to public schools, it is unclear whether schools are actually getting ahead.