Lottery Tickets: Where Do the Proceeds Go?



Spending lottery ticket proceeds is not all about paying out winnings, contrary to what many people think; it goes way beyond just that. For example, rarely do lottery enthusiasts think of senior centers in Pennsylvania, the classrooms of public schools in Florida, or the paths in Colorado. 

Lottery Tickets: Where Do the Proceeds Go?

And while specific lottery systems differ from one state to another, the reality is that each state channels part of the proceeds generated from ticket sales to unique causes.

Distribution of Lottery Ticket Proceeds

There are three major categories of lottery revenues. These include distribution to the states where the tickets are sold, overhead expenses, and winnings and commissions paid to winners and ticket retailers.


Generally, between 50 to 60% of lottery ticket sales are paid to winners, including small prize winners and those who hit the jackpot. Commissions for ticket retailers, including tickets for smaller prizes and jackpots, receive about 5% of the proceeds. But lotteries have operational costs, such as vendor fees, advertisements, and staff wages, which they must meet. That takes 10% or so. The remaining revenue is shared amongst the participating states, based on an agreed model, which could be the number of tickets sold.

How States Use the Lottery Funds

As mentioned before, each state decides how to use its money. Although the funds go to public education in most cases, many states also dedicate it to other causes. Of course, there are many lotteries worldwide, and each of them has clear guidelines on how money is spent. 

For instance, 50% of Powerball and Mega Millions ticket sales go to lottery winners. That means the remaining 50% goes to lottery administration, legal fees, retailer commissions, and other causes as determined by the state (charity, scholarships, etc.).

In Colorado, the charitable funds are distributed to various trusts and organizations whose objective is to preserve the state's wildlife. Hence, they support wildlife whenever a player buys a Colorado Lottery ticket. In the case of Florida, an undisclosed amount of lottery ticket sales goes to the state's Educational Enhancement Trust Fund kitty. In consultation with the Florida Department of Education, the state's legislature decides how the money is spent.

Texas is yet another state that considers public education a good cause. As a result, the sector has received more than $22 billion as donations from lotteries since 1997. In Indiana, lottery revenues go to the Build Indiana Fund, which helps to run projects geared towards seniors/children's organizations, upgrade infrastructure, and preserve historic structures within the state.

With proceeds collected from the sale of Pennsylvania Lottery tickets, the state has spent at least $1 billion on several initiatives aimed at helping the elderly, including their care services and free transportation.

Should One Participate in Lottery Games?

Well, the answer to this question depends on why one plays the lottery. While there are those to play lottery games for fun, some people do so, hoping to hit the jackpot or at least win a prize, however small it is. 

For those who play lotteries to win money, there is one thing to remember; their chances of winning are slimmer than they could imagine. Lotteries are games of chance, so there is nothing anyone can do to influence the outcome. If anyone can't deal with losses, then there is no need to purchase lottery tickets.

What of those players who play for fun and are okay with losses? Well, lotteries are meant for this kind of people. Moreover, with many lottery systems channeling a sizable chunk of their ticket proceeds to good causes, players can take comfort in the fact that their money goes to help someone even if they lose. Hence, a lottery is worth playing for those with benevolent hearts.

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