Watchdog questions lottery education funds

Watchdog questions lotto education fund

AUSTIN -- A Texas Lottery watchdog has raised serious questions about how the lottery pushes revenue into a fund benefiting Texas public schools.

Dawn Nettles, a Dallas-area watchdog, has tracked the lottery since its infancy in the early 1990's.

"I do it to hold the Texas lottery accountable," said Nettles, whose website 'Texas Lotto Report' lists the number of winning and losing tickets for state lottery draw games each day, and also monitors how often the state overpays winners.

According to Nettles' figures, the state has overpaid winners in the Lotto Texas game alone more than 40 times the past decade, after failing to sell enough tickets to cover the final prizes awarded.

"They do not have enough in sales to fund that win, so the Texas lottery has to take funds from somewhere," added Nettles.

Nettles speculated the funds come from lottery operating expenses or from money that would otherwise be deposited into the Texas Foundation School Fund.

A spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery Commission did not respond to multiple requests for an interview, but did point out that the lottery contributed more than $1.2 billion to the Texas Foundation School Fund.

In a written statement, spokeswoman Kelly Cripe conceded revenue for the fund is not constant:

Factors that drive the revenue variable include administrative expenses, the mix of sales between scratch and draw games and unclaimed prizes.  

Cripe did not directly respond to Nettles' data.

After its creation, lottery officials claimed publicly all proceeds not paid to winners, around 37 percent, would go to education. 

But data provided by the lottery shows that percentage last year shrunk to 27 percent.


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