Bill proposed to boost Oklahoma lottery participation

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: January 7, 2010
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Legislation intended to help Oklahoma’s lottery offer more prize money and attract more players has been filed at the state Capitol.

Sen. Richard Lerblance said his measure, Senate Bill 1279, would eliminate the requirement that education receive 35 percent of lottery sales. By eliminating the formula, lottery trustees have said, prize money could be increased and more payouts could be offered, which would attract more players.

Lottery trustees have sought similar legislation the past couple years. Similar measures have failed to advance in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which for the most part opposes the lottery.

Lerblance, D-Hartshorne, said a recent report by the Census Bureau shows Oklahoma is low in actual lottery sales and dollars netted.

Net sales in 2008 totaled just over $200 million, putting Oklahoma 36th among the country’s 42 lotteries, according to the federal agency.

Nearly $113 million was given as prizes for a 45.2 percent payoff percentage, which was the fourth-lowest in the nation.

"We’re facing one of the largest revenue shortfalls in our state’s history and we need to pass legislation to help produce new revenue, and my bill will help do that,” Lerblance said.

Lottery directors from Florida and North Carolina told Oklahoma lottery officials in 2008 that sales skyrocketed in their states when legislators there removed similar mandates.