Schools pocket $30.6 million from lottery

The silver anniversary of the Idaho Lottery produced another record-setting payday for Idaho schools.

The State Department of Education received a $30,625,000 dividend Tuesday, as the lottery distributed dividends from record ticket sales of $208.9 million.

Idaho Lottery, 7.15.14
State lottery director Jeff Anderson, left, and Gov. Butch Otter.

All told, the lottery distributed $49 million in dividends Tuesday, up from $48.2 million a year ago; the state’s Permanent Building Fund received $18,375,000.

The schools’ money is not part of the $1.37 billion general fund budget for K-12. Instead, the money goes into three smaller pots of money:

  • Facilities maintentance, as required by statute: $12.5 million.
  • Operational/discretionary funds: $6.25 million. This is the second phase of a three-year plan to increase district operational funds, which were cut by $82 million during the recession.
  • A bond levy equalization fund: $12.5 million.

The record-setting dividends come almost 25 years to the day after Idaho sold its first lottery ticket, on the steps of the Statehouse, to Idaho potato magnate J.R. Simplot. The lottery had to survive two challenges at the polls; voters approved the proposal both in 1986 and in 1988.

The 2013-14 sales record and record dividend both are roughly triple the first-year sales of $65 million and first-year dividend of $17.2 million.

The success vindicates the faith Idahoans had in the state’s ability to run a “sensitive” enterprise such as a lottery, Gov. Butch Otter said during a ceremony Tuesday.

Lottery director Jeff Anderson said he expects sales and dividends to continue their upward trend.

“Our business plan is to continue to grow responsibly,” he said Tuesday. “We certainly expect to grow every year.”

Over 25 years, the lottery has granted $649 million in dividends to beneficiaries, $160 million in commissions to retailers, and generated $2.7 billion in sales.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday