One revenue sector of state government that’s seen growth in down economic times is the Idaho Lottery. Lotto director Jeff Anderson told lawmakers Monday that the lottery is seeing a 5.4 percent sales increase during the current year, and is expecting 2.5 percent growth in the next year.
“It’s organic growth,” Anderson said. “There are more people playing, but not in an irresponsible way.” He said some of that growth is coming from increased efficiencies in the state lottery, including offering a wider variety of jackpot drawing games, which offer a bigger payout to the state, and fewer scratch games. “We’re trying to meet the market responsibly with products they’re interested in.” The state lottery brings in $35 million a year to state government, which is split evenly between public schools and the Permanent Building Fund. That amount would make up just more than 1 percent of the state general fund.
Anderson said there are no plans for the state to expand the state lottery to capture more revenue. Several states have expanded their lottery or gambling operations since the start of the economic recession as a way to bring in more revenue. Potential expansions other states are considering, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, include adding slot machines or video poker machines, selling lottery tickets online, and privatizing state lotteries. Anderson said Idaho’s lottery, which has been around since 1989, is helping the state in its current size. “Every play pays,” he said. “Not every ticket is a winner, but the state of Idaho wins every time.”
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