Lottery Funding and Education


The history of the lottery goes back hundreds of years. Many ancient documents document lots drawn to determine ownership. During the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it became common throughout Europe. In the United States, lottery funding was tied to the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, when King James I of England created a lottery to support the settlement. Since then, many public and private organizations have used the funds raised by the lottery to fund public works projects, towns, and wars.

Lottery proponents advocate for economic benefits to education

One of the arguments for a lottery in education is the possibility of increased spending on education. However, research shows that a lottery doesn’t increase education spending; in fact, states that don’t sponsor lotteries increase spending on education. In fact, according to former NC State Board of Education chairman Phil Kirk, a lottery in education has the opposite effect. If you’re wondering why education spending isn’t increasing, consider this:

Another argument for a lottery in education is the opportunity it gives low-income families to send their children to top-rated schools. The lottery allows parents to rank up to 12 schools, but the median number was only four last year. Proponents of the lottery in education say it provides a means for more outreach to parents. They host an annual event, EdFest, and advertise the lottery in various forms.

Lottery opponents base objections on religious or moral reasons

While many opponents of the lottery base their objections on religious and moral grounds, those objections are often based on a flawed understanding of the concept. The lottery’s existence was a controversial issue in the early nineteenth century. Jefferson’s plight caused the greatest amount of sympathy and surprise in many regions. Newspapers began advancing plans for relief and meetings began to be held to raise money by voluntary contributions. The lottery was the most popular scheme for raising funds for relief.

Unclaimed winnings are allocated differently by lottery states

The unclaimed prizes from lottery games are returned to the prize pools in a number of ways, including increased payouts on scratch-offs and additional second-chance promotions. Some lottery states allocate unclaimed prize money to specific state programs. For example, in Texas, unclaimed prizes are used to help fund hospital research and indigent health care. Many lottery players have no idea how their winnings are used.

Lottery commissions are a multimillion-dollar business

Across the nation, lottery commissions employ just a few thousand people to administer and monitor state-run games. The vast majority of lottery sales, however, occur at retail outlets contracted with state lottery commissions. These retailers receive a percentage of sales as a commission from the lottery and a bonus when they sell a winning ticket. In most states, lottery commissions are not limited in the number of retailers, so there is no shortage of opportunities for lottery sales.

During 2003, lottery sales in the U.S. dropped slightly in seven states and the District of Columbia. But sales in Puerto Rico rose by almost 30%. Moreover, the state Lottery Commission received sales figures for the last decade. Although the numbers may not be as high as in years past, it remains a multimillion-dollar industry. Some lottery retailers say they are selling lottery tickets because they want to drive more business. Others may be wary of losing business to competing retailers.