OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s a state run business that brings in $200 million a year, including $60 million for education in the Sooner State.
However, one Oklahoma lawmaker says it’s time to get rid of the lottery in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Sen. AJ Griffin says funding coming from the lottery is simply “smoke and mirrors.”
She says the lottery didn’t fulfill its promise to education, and a more direct route to funding is needed.
“We shouldn’t have done it in the first place,” Griffin said. “The original promise was that it was going to bring in significantly more than it does currently.”
Money for education was the key promise behind launching the Oklahoma Lottery.
“What you hear a lot around here is that the lottery never lived up to those promises,” said Rollo Redburn, the executive director of the Oklahoma Lottery Commission.
Redburn says it’s bringing in $200 million a year and giving 35 percent of that to education.
“Only about $60 million actually makes it to schools,” said Griffin.
Sen. Griffin says she wants to erase that figure from the budget and do away with the lottery completely.
“I would rather see us simply use taxpayer dollars that are collected in an honest way and call a tax a tax. The lottery is a tax,” Griffin said.
“The fact of the matter is, they just don’t support the lottery,” Redburn said. “They think it’s immoral, they think it’s the wrong way for governments to raise money.”
Killing the lottery is a gamble Sen. Griffin says she’s willing to take.
However, she says she hasn’t quite figured out how to replace the $60 million that is currently going to education.
“I believe that we would properly fund education through other sources,” Griffin said.
Redburn says the other 65 percent of the earnings go back into the lottery to keep the program running and for the prize payouts that go to lottery winners.