Where Does Money From the Lottery Go?

By Najee Person

People dream about the once in a life time opportunity to be a lottery winner. You pray that all the stars will be aligned and that you will be in God’s favor for the right numbers to change your life and live the real American dream. These are the hopes of most middle and lower income Americans every time the lottery comes around. People go out and buy boat loads of lottery tickets to increase their numbers of being the lucky one. But the biggest question is after all the revenue from the lottery has been collected, where does the ticket money go?    

Where does it go?

What most people don’t know is that over half of the percentage of the dollars spent on the lottery goes to prize money but the rest of the percentage is divided accordingly to other places. What are those other places? Education, retailers, and administration are next in line to receive the percentage of the dollar that’s left after the prize percentage is taken out. 65.5 cent of every dollar that is spent that is spent on the lottery goes to the prize money that some random lucky person will get. So out of one dollar if 65.5 is deducted, you have 34.5 cents left in the dollar. This 34.5 goes to education, retailers and administration as I stated before. 24 cents goes the state’s education, 6.1 cents goes to retail, and 4.4 to administration. Over the past years the Missouri lottery has contributed over 5 billion dollars to public education. Each year the winners go home with even more than the last year. So more money is being contributed to education.

Illustration by: Najee Person

Illustration by: Najee Person

Is it enough?

Last year the St. Louis lottery made $125,615,813.00 in sales and $26 million went to education. The lottery money last year in 2015 was 4 percent of the schools’ funding. With ticket sales going up each year, more money is being generated to schools to better education, which actually could be seen as a positive effect when it comes to future generations. If there was no lottery it would be very hard to replace those dollars for the schools. But at the same time, schools cannot rely entirely on lottery revenue for education funds. In 2013 the Illinois lottery pulled in $2.9 billion. $656 million went to schools, but it cost $28.5 billion to run 3,862 Illinois schools.    

Technically we all win big when the lottery is in our state because of the percentages that are spread out to all the different places. So the next time you play the lottery and you don’t win, just know your money is going to the right places. It is well known that the chances of winning the lottery are slim to none. But next time around I might actually play to send my funds to education and not think about winning anything.