Where Did Our Cut Go?


According to the headline on a post in The 74, “Sports Betting Raised $100 Million for Education in First Four Years”.

And that’s just in one small state, New Hampshire.

In the four years since New Hampshire legalized sports betting and teamed up with DraftKings, the partnership has contributed $100 million to public education, according to the New Hampshire Lottery. It’s one of several games run by the Lottery that contributes to the Education Trust Fund.

The very short piece, which reads a little like a press release, doesn’t provide much information beyond that opening paragraph. It certainly doesn’t address some very big questions on the general topic of funding schools through gambling receipts.

The big question, of course, is: was that $100 million added to the funding provided by state tax revenues? Did the amount going to schools actually increase?

When modern state lotteries began spreading way back in the 70’s, the promise that sold them in many areas was that profits would benefit schools and other social needs.

However, the math often did not add up. Over the decades gambling money far too often has been used to replace normal school funding instead of supplementing it.

If history is any indication, that’s not likely to change with the flood of income from sports betting.

With states like these boasting huge windfalls in lottery revenues, it seems hard to believe that some of these states are the same ones that are in the midst of major cuts to their education budgets. If the lotteries are thriving, why aren’t the schools improving as well?

According to the Washington Post, one of the biggest problems is that the more the lotteries bring into schools, the more states cut education budgets in anticipation of those windfalls. The Washington Post op-ed states, “Instead of using the money as additional funding, legislatures have used the lottery money to pay for the education budget and spent the money that would have been used had there been no lottery cash on other things.”

In Virginia, the money gained from the lottery is now being used by state lawmakers for regular education expenses rather than additional education funding.

The reality is that gambling is a really crappy way to support schools, or any other necessary government service for that matter.

But state-sponsored lotteries and legal sports betting are here and they aren’t going away. So, we need to push our leaders to follow through with their promises and use the money to actually expands support for public education.

And syphoning the money off into private schools, whether with vouchers or charters, doesn’t count.

The photo is a nice orchid at the Smithsonian, part of my learning how to use a macro lens.

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