Pirate Johnny / Flickr

Could Privatizing the Lottery Be the Ticket to Higher Revenue?

  • Joe Wertz

Pirate Johnny / Flickr

Since privatizing its lottery in 2010, Illinois has enjoyed increased revenues, a state Senate panel was told Tuesday.

The Tulsa World’s Barbara Hoberock reports:

The Senate Finance Committee during an interim study heard the pros about privatizing the state’s lottery, which was approved by voters in 2004 to generate revenue for education.

Tim Lowry, an attorney who specializes in gambling and lotteries, said the advantages of privatizing the lottery outweigh the disadvantages.

Lowry said governments are excellent at regulating and setting policy but not very good at business operations because they don’t have the innovation that the markets possess.

Illinois privatized its lottery in 2010 and has since seen increased revenues, Lowry said.

The study was requested by state Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, who said the Legislature needs to look at Oklahoma’s mandate that 35 percent of lottery sales revenue go to the state, which lottery officials say reduces the amount of money for prizes.

For years, lottery officials have argued that that the percentage needs to be reduced to direct more money to prizes.

Jim Scroggins, executive director of the Oklahoma Lottery Commission, said Oklahoma’s current percentage cuts potential lottery revenue. He went on to compare lotteries in Kentucky and Louisiana, which have similar populations and started lotteries about the same time.

Louisiana has the 35 percent mandate; Kentucky doesn’t. Kentucky has more than twice as many sales than that of Louisiana, Scroggins told the panel.