State officials tout record highs in N.C. Education Lottery profits, but there are caveats

EducationState officials are touting record profits from the N.C. Education Lottery, according to an Associated Press report Thursday. 

From the AP report:

The North Carolina Education Lottery says it’s had another record year for ticket sales and net profits.

Lottery officials announced Thursday ticket sales for the year ending June 30 totaled nearly $2.4 billion, generating almost $608 million for education. Ticket revenues were 20 percent higher than the year before. A year ago, net profits were $521 million.

Lottery Executive Director Alice Garland says scratch-off games and the record $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot in January contributed primarily to the record sales.

Sales and net profits for the state have increased every year since the first tickets were sold in 2006.

The legislature directs lottery profits go for public school construction and non-instructional staff, financial aid for university and community college students and pre-kindergarten for at-risk 4-year-olds.

This would seem to be good news for state education dollars, but, of course, there are obvious caveats, some would say.

Many critics say GOP leadership in the N.C. General Assembly often supplants general fund spending with lottery dollars, but the net results aren’t positive for state schools.

Democrats in the legislature attempted this session to direct a portion of a lottery windfall toward helping teachers pay off students loans, but that measure stalled in May.

Here’s an in-depth report this March from the Smoky Mountain News in western North Carolina on the questions surrounding education funding derived from the state’s decade-old lottery. 

Also, if you have the time, take a few minutes to watch a 2014 take-down of the state lottery in a segment by HBO comedian John Oliver. 

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