The single-most restrictive factor faced by the lottery is the requirement to produce a 35 percent profit every year. The lottery has reduced the number of staff and has reduced operating expenses and advertising expenses in order to increase earnings for Oklahoma education programs. However, this 35 percent profit restriction actually reduces the amount of money provided for education.
Requiring a 35 percent profit reduces the amount that can be dedicated to prizes, lowering the appeal of the tickets, sales and the actual amount of profit provided for education. In one sense, the question becomes “Would you rather provide education with $65 million at 35 percent, or would you rather provide education $75 million at 28 percent?”
Increased lottery funding for education can be realized by simply modifying provisions in current law. These changes would subsequently allow the lottery to better fulfill its statutory mandate to maximize profits for Oklahoma education.
Redburn is executive director of the Oklahoma Lottery Commission.