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Oklahoma Lottery projects dip in education contributions

The Oklahoma Lottery Commission estimates in 2014 it will contribute $58.7 million to education, roughly $6 million less than projected in this fiscal year due to expected increases in operating costs.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND Modified: September 18, 2012 at 8:19 pm •  Published: September 18, 2012

Despite a recent uptick in lottery ticket sales, the Oklahoma Lottery Commission is projecting a roughly $17.2 million decline in revenues for fiscal year 2014, which will mean less money flowing to education.

“That's the bad news,” said Rollo Redburn, the new executive director of the Lottery Commission.

He estimated about $6 million less will go to education.

The driving force behind the reduction is an anticipated increase in the cost of operations.

Commissioners approved a request for proposals from a new vendor for instant and online gaming services. Currently that contract has one of the best rates in the nation, Redburn told commissioners, and he anticipates the fee for the service will increase with a new contract.

The current contract expires in August 2013.

Jay Finks, director of marketing and administration, said an increase in the cost of the agency's largest contract could have a domino effect.

The agency is required to pay 35 percent of lottery revenues to benefit higher education, career technology programs and common education, prekindergarten-through-12th-grade public schools.

Because of that cap, he said increased costs will cut into the amount of prizes the commission can award. Decreased prizes equal decreased ticket purchases, he said.

Finks said removing that 35 percent cap would equate to higher prizes being offered, more ticket sales and an overall greater amount of money going to education.

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