Measure passed Senate Appropriations Committee by 24-9 vote

New lottery bill that would give money to education draws support in Oklahoma

The board of the Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association support the bill, said Candace McGinnis, executive director. The proposed measure is now heading to the Senate floor.

United States 
| 18/04/2017

For years, lottery officials in Tulsa asked lawmakers to let them plug more dollars into prizes and increase the participation of their business in other sectors such as education.

Current law requires the lottery to give 35% of its profits to education. The bill would remove that profit requirement, said Jay Finks, Oklahoma Lottery director of marketing and administration.

With the proposed changes in the bill, the lottery expects to give education $335 million in the next five years. Finks claimed that the lottery industry has peaked in what it can give to education and now is on a decline.

Lottery revenue going to education hit a high mark in 2008 at USD 71.6 million.

In fiscal year 2016, it provided USD 66.4 million, said Rollo Redburn, lottery executive director. In fiscal year 2015, it was USD 60.1 million, he said. 

Part of the problem is competing with other gambling entities, such as casinos, officials have said. In addition, prizes are not large enough to motivate consumers, they said.

“We have the lowest payouts in the country,” Finks said. “It impacts sales. We can’t grow sales.”

House Appropriations and Budget Chair Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, and Senate Appropriations Chair Kim David, R-Porter, are the authorsof the draft.

However, the new legislation has some detractors. Senator Marty Quinn was among the nine voting against the measure for what he said was a personal preference. He said the measure will incentivize gambling.

“I don’t think gambling is good for society,” Quinn said. “There is plenty of evidence of the harm it causes our society. It preys heavily on the less fortunate. They have the most to lose.”