The Norman Transcript

August 2, 2013

Lottery revenue is up

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — In November 2004, Oklahoma voters said yes to the creation of a statewide lottery that would benefit public education. Since then, the lottery has provided about $550 million to the cause and made a few millionaires along the way.

The popularity of the Oklahoma lottery also has contributed to the growth of the bigger, nationwide lotteries that pay out multiple millions in prizes.

Fiscal Year 2013 was an exemplary year for the lottery, with education receiving $12.6 million more than planned. Lottery officials told the Tulsa World that amount could have been even higher if the requirement that 35 percent of lottery profits go to education could be removed.

The idea is if the restriction were removed, the agency could pump up prizes, which would generate more lottery ticket buyers. That would lead to increased profits to give to education.

We’re not sure that kind of math is bankable or would pass the muster with voters who approved it. The lottery has a pretty steady audience that doesn’t seem to change over time.

A poll released this week shows that 53.3 percent of those questioned have a favorable view of the lottery. It was the first time since 2009 when such polling began that the majority of Oklahomans polled had a favorable view of the games.