I wrote a while ago about how if Chicago were to ever get its own casino, it could siphon gamblers away from casinos in Northwest Indiana, and lots of tax revenue with them. Well, the exact opposite is happening lately, at least in the one bastion of gambling most states agree is okay: the lottery.
You’ve probably heard recently that the Illinois Lottery has been unable to pay winners above a certain amount. Apparently, such a turn of events is sending avid lottery players across the state line to partake in the Hoosier Lottery.
Is this good for our state? And going further, does the lottery in general benefit Indiana? I’ve looked before at how casino taxes make up a good chunk of state and local tax revenue, but not the lottery.
Well, according to the Hoosier Lottery website, the state’s total revenue from the game in the fiscal year of 2013 was $224,500,003. The state’s figures back up those numbers. That’s around 1.5 percent of the total revenue the state raised in the same time.
By state law, revenue collected from the lottery goes to teachers’ retirement funds, local police and fire department pensions, and the Build Indiana Fund, which funds all sorts of projects. The Hoosier Lottery Site even has an interactive map where visitors can see how the money’s distributed across the state’s counties.
It’s a smaller chunk of change than casinos bring to the state, but yes, the lottery definitely does benefit the state.
On a final note, I feel I should clarify that Illinois’ lottery woes aren’t what many people seem to think: it’s their current budget impasse that’s legally tying their hands, not the fact that they don’t have the money (a conclusion to which I jumped when I first heard the news). Still, with the state so dysfunctional that they can’t even keep up their lottery, maybe an Illinois casino isn’t as likely to happen anytime soon as I might have feared.