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House Bill 278 – Idaho State Lottery, Appropriations FY24

House Bill 278 – Idaho State Lottery, Appropriations FY24

Niklas Kleinworth
March 8, 2023

The Idaho Spending Index serves to provide a fiscally conservative perspective on state budgeting while providing an unbiased measurement of how Idaho lawmakers apply these values to their voting behavior on appropriations bills. Each bill is analyzed within the context of the metrics below. They receive one (+1) point for each metric that is satisfied by freedom-focused policymaking and lose one (-1) point for each instance in which the inverse is true. The sum of these points composes the score for the bill.

Analyst: Niklas Kleinworth

Rating: -2

Bill Description: House Bill 278 appropriates $7,506,900 and 50.00 full-time positions to the Idaho State Lottery for fiscal year 2024.

Except for the statewide human resources consolidation initiative, this is a true maintenance of the operations budget, featuring no line items or supplementals. There are also no changes in the number of full-time positions within the agency.

Does this budget enact powers and activities that extend beyond the proper role of government? Conversely, does this budget fulfill the proper role of government?

The Idaho State Lottery is three decades old. But the problems with the establishment and running of a government gambling operation are no different today than when the first lottery ticket was sold in Idaho in 1989. 

The government simply shouldn’t be in the lottery business. In addition to being a tax on the poorest, who hope that a winning ticket will solve their financial problems, it is also widely understood to be a tax on people whose hopes lead them to conclude that they may be lucky enough to “strike it rich,” even though the odds don’t favor such an outcome. The lottery’s business model depends on purchases from people who cannot afford tickets, making it highly dubious public policy. Given the current trajectory of the economy, it is likely that ticket sales will continue to increase as Idahoans seek ways to escape the crippling cost of living.


Is the maintenance budget inappropriate for the needs of the state, the size of the agency, or the inflationary environment of the economy? Conversely, is the maintenance budget appropriate given the needs of the state and economic pressures?

This legislation sets the maintenance budget for the State Lottery at $7,473,600, growing from the base by 19.9% in the last three years. This rate is nearly six percentage points more than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.


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