OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Members of the board that oversees the Oklahoma lottery will press lawmakers again to increase lottery prize money as a way of generating more cash for education.
At a meeting Tuesday, officials warned that lottery proceeds will drop off in future years if prize money is not increased. They said lottery sales in Oklahoma also will suffer in the near future because of the economic climate and competition from a new Arkansas lottery, which likely will not have restrictions on prizes that are in Oklahoma law.
Jim Scoggins, executive director of the lottery, said the future of the games providing needed funding for education is at stake.
Scoggins said if prizes are not enough to keep people playing, revenue will drop off year after year.
“Every year it goes on, it is just going to get worse,” Scoggins said.
He said case studies show increasing the amount of money going to lottery prizes has increased sales and revenue in other states.
Lottery officials tried in vain to get the change a year ago. The proposal was bottled up after opposition from Republican leaders.
Charlotte Edwards, lottery commission member, said she is baffled at the lack of support in the Legislature for the lottery when it passed all 77 counties several years ago.Jim Orbison, board member from Tulsa, said it was indisputable that higher lottery payouts increase revenue.
Scoggins said the lottery agency cut expenses $2 million this year and are on track to reach its goal of netting $69.2 million this fiscal year for education. But the next fiscal year, revenue is expected to drop almost $6 million, with more losses the year after next because of losing business to Arkansas and because of payout restrictions, he said.
Under the current formula, the lottery must send 35 percent of its receipts to education. While that sounds good, it limits the amount of money that can be spent on prizes that generate lottery sales, officials say. Without the restrictions, they say more money would be made for education.
“We really need to get the restriction removed so we can maximize the money for education,” said George Charlton, lottery board member.
Rep. Tad Jones, R-Claremore, majority floor leader in the House, said he has not detected much support for changing the formula.
“I’m sure we'll talk about it, but from my perspective, I’m not too excited about it,” Jones said.Before adjourning, the lottery board re-elected William Paul as chairman.
The board also heard from Sherry Hansen, district supervisor for the Kum & Go Corp., which operates 58 convenience stores in Oklahoma.Hansen said the lottery had been a boon to Oklahoma businesses that sell lottery tickets, while generating more than $230 million for education.
She said an advisory board made up of retail merchants supports changing the formula