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How Much Lottery Revenue Actually Funds Texas Public Education?

"Mega Millions" Lottery Jackpot Tops $220 Million
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

I’ve always heard that money spent on Lottery tickets are intended to fund public education, but no one could ever tell me if it was all of the revenue, most of it, or even a fraction. According to the Texas Lottery Commission website, only about 27% of Lottery revenue goes to public school funding.

The Texas Tribune has a column called Hey, Texplainer, which answers a reader’s question about something Texas-related – normally political or policy-oriented. This particular question yielded some fascinating answers about the Texas Lottery that I want to share with y’all.

When having a Texas Lottery was on the table for discussion a quarter century ago:

… political candidates left many Texans with the impression that 100 percent of the money earned from the lottery would go toward public education and that the lottery might generate enough money to pay for all public education.

Nope and nope.

The Texas Lottery was approved November of 1991. Texas Tribune reports that over the next four years, $4 billion in sales and unclaimed prizes were allocated to the state’s general fund. In 1997, schools became a primary beneficiary.

Here’s how it is broken down now per Texas Lottery Commission:

  • 63 percent is paid to lottery winners
  • 27.1 percent funds Texas education through the Foundation School Fund
  • 5.4 percent goes toward retailer commissions
  • 4 percent goes to the lottery for administrative costs
  • The remainder, about 0.4 percent, funds the Veterans Assistance Program and other state programs

Another interesting tid-bit:

Texans play the lottery now more than ever as the ’16-’17 fiscal year brought in a record $5+ billion in sales. Of that $5 billion, about $1.3 billion was given to the Foundation School Fund.

You Didn’t Win the Powerball – Good, You Probably Dodged a Bullet

So keep playing Texas. While it’s not all of the Lottery revenue going to our public school system like initially promised, $1.3 billion ain’t too shabby.

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