Where Does Lottery Revenue Really Go?

Think lotteries pocket the money they make from ticket sales? Think again.
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  • Author:
    William Monroe
  • Published:

The primary goal of lotteries is not really to provide winnings to the public, the perception being that it’s a benevolent action to help individuals become more wealthy and happy. Far from it.

Lotteries are money-making activities, like all other businesses, where the main goal is to produce an income and profit for both the operator and the regulator.

Much of a lottery’s profits go back into prizes and help cover the operating fees of the lottery, such as advertising and wages. But, what happens with the remainder of the funds? Although each regulating jurisdiction has its own way of distributing lottery profits, in most cases the money is distributed out to the community in various ways to support initiatives and improve lives.

Education is the Biggest Winner

For instance, lottery proceeds may be parceled out to various educational agencies to improve school buildings, hire more teachers, support school nutritional programs, enhance or enable tuitions and scholarships, create or improve student activities, and purchase school supplies. The education system is one of the most highly funded programs of lottery profits.

Where Else Does the Money Go?

Proceeds may also go right into the community to support programs designed for the developmentally or physically challenged, deaf, or blind individuals and related support agencies, literacy programs, mental health centres, agencies, and programs, health providers and agencies, hospitals, addiction counselling services, addressing family violence, food banks, community centres, libraries, and others.

Economic development initiatives can be benefactors of lottery profits as well. Job creation, business support programs, business creation and development, business loans, hiring incentives, skills training, and similar programs help to build a strong workforce in communities.

Jails and detention centres, environmental protection, amateur athletes, Aboriginal programs, culture and tourism, and other such programs and agencies also benefit from lottery income.

Money may also be allocated to infrastructure initiatives such as public transportation, road improvement, parks, trails, conservation areas, and wildlife protection.

A portion of lottery proceeds also goes back into the gaming industry itself to support problem gambling agencies and programs, ads and public service announcements, and various businesses and agencies that work towards research, treatment, and prevention of problem-gambling issues.

Why It's Unfair to Accuse Lotteries of Profiteering

So, operators and regulators don’t just pocket the proceeds from lotteries.

So many charities and community agencies benefit from the public’s enjoyment and continued support of lottery games. Without the funds from lotteries today, many of these charities would be floundering for funds, and many people would worse off than they are now.

Lotteries are not just games that let people win money. They are income-producing activities that help channel their profits into benefits that directly and indirectly help us all and make our lives just that little bit easier.

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