Oklahomans spent 40 percent more on lottery tickets and scratch-offs since July 1 than they did during the same time period last year, a boost that has been attributed to changes that include larger payouts.
The Oklahoma Lottery Commission also reported that sales of scratch-off tickets alone are up by 60 percent. Because of higher sales, the commission estimates a double-digit increase in its contribution to education funds next year.
"Even without sales related to recent Powerball jackpots, we're still seeing tremendous growth in other games that are helping drive the increases we're projecting to education," said Jay Finks, director of sales and marketing.
The state lottery, which has seen diminished participation with its scratch-off cards in recent years, was able to increase prize amounts with a new law adopted by the Legislature last year.
As participation dwindled, officials had to shrink prize amounts because state law required that at least 35 percent of all proceeds be diverted to the Education Trust Fund. In 2013, the Lottery lowered payouts so it could comply with the profit margin restriction.
With lower payouts, lottery officials say they lost players.
Instead of a percentage, the lottery will now contribute the first $50 million in revenue to the Education Trust Fund. Lawmakers also required that administrative costs of managing the lottery not exceed 3 percent of sales.
Any sales above the $50 million mark will be available for legislative appropriation. That money will go to the state Department of Education to implement early reading intervention initiatives or science, technology, engineering and math programs, also known as STEM.
The high-water mark for lottery contributions to education was a decade ago, when more than $71 million was deposited into the trust fund. Last year, the lottery contributed just $53 million.
The changes are predicted to raise $330 million for education over the next five years, which Fink said is $110 million more than what would have been deposited without changes to Oklahoma's lottery system.
"Sales are up in a big way over last year, and all signs point to the lottery making a significantly larger contribution to education next year and in the years to come," said Oklahoma Lottery Commission Director Rollo Redburn.
The restructuring didn't affect multistate lottery games like Powerball. The commission last year planned to introduce 16 new and modified scratch-off games, however, including the state's first $10 scratch-off that pays out as much as $100,000.