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Oklahoma Lottery earnings for year will be lower than expected

Despite a boost in sales related to a recent Powerball jackpot, Oklahoma's lottery earnings continue to slide. Lottery trustees again will seek removing a requirement that 35 percent of lottery earnings to go to public education.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: December 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm •  Published: December 5, 2012

Despite last month's record Powerball jackpot spiking sales in Oklahoma, lottery officials Tuesday approved a revised budget that shows education in the state will receive nearly $500,000 less than estimated earlier.

Latest estimates now show education getting $64.3 million from the lottery, down $433,650 from the $64.7 million figure lottery trustees approved in June.

“We're expecting sales to be down because of the prize payoffs on the instant tickets,” said Rollo Redburn, the lottery's executive director.

State law requires 35 percent of lottery earnings to go to public schools, higher education, the teachers retirement system and the school consolidation fund.

The amount for public education in the state is still about $3.7 million more than originally estimated, he said. Lottery officials originally projected education would receive $60.5 million in the 2013 fiscal year, which began July 1.

Earnings overall drop

Overall earnings for the lottery are projected to be about $183.7 million for the 2013 fiscal year, which is down from $199.9 million a year ago. Sales of instant tickets, also called Scratchers, have been lagging. They're projected to bring in about half the revenue this fiscal year for the Oklahoma Lottery Commission.

Sales of Powerball tickets sold at a frenzied pace in Oklahoma the two weeks before last week's record jackpot was won by two players: one who bought a ticket in Missouri and another who bought a ticket in Arizona, Redburn said. Half the Powerball ticket sales in Oklahoma go into the prize pool, and the other half goes to the Oklahoma Lottery Commission to pay for its expenses.

Jay Finks, director of marketing and administration for the lottery, said Powerball ticket sales normally run about $1 million a week in Oklahoma.

Powerball sales for the two weeks before last week's winning drawing were about $11 million, he said.

Redburn said the Oklahoma Lottery can't depend on record jackpots. The lottery was helped during the last fiscal year when Megamillions had the biggest payout in U.S. history. In March, the prize hit $640 million, and the winnings were shared among three ticket holders in Illinois, Maryland and Kansas.

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