Senate bill tries to squeeze more dollars out of the lottery

[private]The state Senate unanimously approved Tuesday legislation that will require the Georgia Lottery to send a higher percentage of its gross revenues to the HOPE scholarship and pre-K programs.

Currently, the lottery sends about 25 percent of its annual $4 billion in gross sales to the educational programs, but SB 5 would force the lottery to increase that payout to 26.5 percent, 27.5 percent, and 28.5 percent over the next three years.

Lottery officials contend that they must keep prize payouts at a high level to maximize the sale of tickets, but senators rejected that argument.

Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) noted that state law requires the lottery to transfer 35 percent of its revenues to the education programs.

“This bill tries to nudge them back up to our original intent of 35 percent,” Cowsert said. “Increasing the return by even 1 percent a year would mean $42 million more dollars for the HOPE scholarship.”

“I don’t think it’s so price sensitive that a 1 percent decrease in payouts would make people quit playing,” Cowsert contended.

SB 5 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Bill Cowsert , Georgia Lottery , payouts to HOPE