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Ohio Lottery Director Aims to Dispel Myths

Ohio LotteryOhio Lottery: Ohio Lottery Director Aims to Dispel Myths

What would compel the top executive of a state agency with more than $2 billion in annual sales to drive nearly two hours to a community meeting in tiny Malvern, Ohio?  The hope of dispelling what he calls a myth, of course.

"The one big concern, the one big misconception," explained Tom Hayes, director of the Ohio Lottery Commission, "is, people say, Well, we passed the lottery, that should fund all of education.' We send all of our profits to education, but that isn't going to fund all of education."

Not even close. In 2004, Ohio spent $15.9 billion on public education, paid for by a split of state, local and federal money. The lottery paid $648 million -- or about 4 cents of every dollar spent on education.

Hayes, who has led the lottery since January, said nearly half his time has been spent trying to reverse the misconception and essentially clear the lottery's name. Too many people, he said, blame the lottery for failed school tax requests.

For that reason, the Ohio Lottery has partnered with the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, or BASA, and launched a speakers bureau, offering to drop in on community discussions anywhere a tax is on the ballot.

Last Thursday, Hayes was in Malvern, the sleepy home of the Hornets, population 1,220, about 15 miles southeast of Canton. A town with one traffic light, one building that houses the elementary, middle and high schools, and a Dairy Queen that is a popular hangout even on a cool spring evening.

On Tuesday, voters in Ohio will decide nearly 200 school tax requests, including one in Malvern's Brown Local School District. The district will be on the ballot for the sixth time in three years - each of the previous five issues failed. And part of the trouble is that some in town believe that paying for education is the lottery's business.

"Our local residents are tired of being taxed and so they are saying, 'Wait a minute, what happened to the lottery?' " said Brown Superintendent Connie Griffin.

Griffin organized a school funding meeting attended by about 40 residents, and explained the district's financial situation and how the 6.3-mill emergency operating levy would help. She invited Hayes to address the lottery's role.

"Honestly, I think the reason they are putting together a public-relations campaign - that's what I call it - is because they are also getting a bad reputation," Griffin said of the Lottery Commission.

Hayes doesn't deny that.

"People want to believe what they want to believe," he said. "I think that what we can do is try to make people realize that every dollar we raise, a portion of that goes to kids."

So, how is it that 31 years since the first lottery drawing, the commission finds itself trapped in this unshakable public-relations nightmare?

Two theories could explain it. In 1971, the lottery was most vigorously supported by Cleveland-area Sen. Ron Mottl Sr. and the proposed measure earmarked lottery profits for education.

But by 1973, when the lottery was approved, profits were instead destined for the state's general revenue fund. From that fund, some of the lottery money was shifted to education.

But some people never forgot that original intention. In 1987, Ohio voters passed a constitutional amendment stipulating that all lottery profits be used for public education.

"People assumed that the lottery would take care of education and almost be a sole source of funding, which we never intended," said Mardele Cohen, lottery spokeswoman.

The other theory is that proponents, perhaps, lawmakers among them, campaigned for the lottery as an alternative to rising property taxes and a reason for defeating school taxes.

"I was alive in 1973 and I distinctly remember, as do many people, all the rhetoric about how the lottery was going to make a huge impact on school funding," said anti-gambling activist David Zanotti of the Ohio Roundtable, a public policy group.

"The odds of winning the lottery are 14 million to 1," he said. "They deal in illusion every day, so it's likely they would call a myth which really is reality."

Zanotti said he agrees that the lottery was not sold as a cure for all school money problems, just that it was supposed to slow the rising number of school tax requests.

If that were true, then the lottery is missing the mark. In 2004, a record 618 school issues were on ballots statewide, according to the Ohio Department of Education. On Tuesday, 197 school issues will be on the ballot, the most ever for a May election.

Zanotti and other opponents also have complained that instead of adding to the education budget, lottery profits have been used to supplement the state's budget - for every dollar the lottery puts in, the state is bad a buck back from education and spends it elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the lottery's contribution is declining because as education costs have risen, the lottery's sales have remained relatively stagnant. This is despite the fact Ohio joined the multistate Mega-Millions game in 2002 expecting to increase sales and send more to education.

The school funding problem is arguably the most difficult task facing lawmakers. The Ohio Supreme Court has declared Ohio's current system unconstitutional, noting the overreliance on local property taxes. But the lottery was never intended to be the answer, former state legislator Mottl has said.

In a 1994 interview with The Plain Dealer, Mottl said that each year people would ask if the lottery would solve the school funding problem.

"You show me where I ever said that. . . . There's nothing on paper where I said that," Mottl was quoted as saying.

One fact is clear: Since 1975, the lottery has sent $13 billion to Ohio education.

In 2004, the lottery sold $2.2 billion in tickets. After paying prize winners, bonuses and commissions to ticket vendors, and administrative costs, the remaining $648 million went to education.

The only way the lottery could do more for education, Hayes said, is for Ohioans to spend more on lottery games.

"If you want the lottery to be responsible for funding schools, then we need $50 billion in sales," said Hayes, standing in the Malvern High gymnasium. "And it's not going to happen."

Plain Dealer

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17 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 2

United States
Member #379
June 5, 2002
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Posted: May 2, 2005, 4:14 pm - IP Logged

The same myth applies to NY.

    LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
    Tennessee
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    Posted: May 3, 2005, 7:17 am - IP Logged


      United States
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      Posted: May 3, 2005, 9:41 am - IP Logged

      mike:

      You always agree.

        RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
        mid-Ohio
        United States
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        March 24, 2001
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        Posted: May 4, 2005, 10:27 am - IP Logged

        In 2004, the lottery sold $2.2 billion in tickets. After paying prize winners, bonuses and commissions to ticket vendors, and administrative costs, the remaining $648 million went to education









        If the players got half the ticket sales as prizes,that left $452 millions for bonuses and commissions to ticket vendors and administrative costs which is almost as much as education got.

        RJOh

         * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
           
                     Evil Looking       

          LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
          Tennessee
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          Posted: May 5, 2005, 6:23 am - IP Logged

          if the ohio lottery was established in 1975 it is 30 years old which must make it one of the oldest lotteries in the nation....

            LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
            Tennessee
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            Posted: May 5, 2005, 6:24 am - IP Logged
            Quote: Originally posted by CASH Only on May 3, 2005



            mike:

            You always agree.





            sometimes.....not always

              United States
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              June 5, 2002
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              Posted: May 5, 2005, 12:44 pm - IP Logged

              New Hampshire has the longest running US lottery (1964).

                RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                mid-Ohio
                United States
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                Posted: May 5, 2005, 12:59 pm - IP Logged
                Quote: Originally posted by CASH Only on May 5, 2005


                What kind of game pays out $522 for 5/6 and $14 for 4/6, and a DOLLAR for 3/6?



                Is that a riddle or a question looking for an answer?

                 * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                   
                             Evil Looking       


                  United States
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                  Posted: May 5, 2005, 1:06 pm - IP Logged

                  rj:

                  Those were recent payouts in NY Cheapo, er, Lotto.

                    LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
                    Tennessee
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                    Posted: May 5, 2005, 5:02 pm - IP Logged
                    Quote: Originally posted by CASH Only on May 5, 2005


                    New Hampshire has the longest running US lottery (1964).



                    thanks for the info,i was wondering when each state lottery started i would love to know if you have the info.
                      LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
                      Tennessee
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                      Posted: May 5, 2005, 5:03 pm - IP Logged

                      of course it took tennessee until 2004 because we live in the bible belt.....


                        United States
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                        Posted: May 5, 2005, 9:19 pm - IP Logged


                        NY started in 1967; it was second.

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                          New Mexico
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                          March 10, 2005
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                          Posted: May 25, 2005, 5:01 pm - IP Logged

                          Mike:

                          NM adopted Powerball in the late 1990s... a year or so later, but still during the last century, it began Roadrunner or a facsimile.  The legislature had debated the issue for several years prior to the passing of it.  The legislators made it a debate a person hated to see go away by seasoning it with remarks such as, "It's a voluntary tax on stupidity."

                          We not Bible Belt, but we might be thought of as in the Bible Bolo Tie, without fear of inaccuracy. 

                          Ohio Lottery should be grateful the money they're losing to casinoes (yeah, cash... casinoes) has to cross the state boundaries.  In New Mexico we've got a dozen or more near the largest metro areas, and there's not a lottery ticket to be bought on any NA Rez.

                          But the NAs don't have lotteries yet, which is a surprise.

                          Jack

                            Shawnintennesse's avatar - British Pint_414_.jpg
                            Springfield,Ohio
                            United States
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                            April 19, 2005
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                            Posted: May 25, 2005, 5:38 pm - IP Logged


                            of course it took tennessee until 2004 because we live in the bible belt.....

                            It took them that long because the state couldnt figure out how to get it in there pockets...

                            If it weren't for Vtracs and STXS where would we be?