The past fiscal year was a successful one according to the Georgia Lottery although exact details are still unavailable. Among the points that the Lottery has highlighted is a transfer of more than $1.5 billion to education in the state for the year.
With record online sales also part of the initial assessment of the year, a natural takeaway is how much more Georgia could be delivering to citizens by legalizing other forms of online gambling. One facet of the current social programs that gaming funds support points to a need in the state that gaming expansion could address.
Georgia Lottery marks new sales records
According to Dave Williams of Capitol Beat News Service, contributions to education from the Georgia Lottery for fiscal year 2023 surpassed $1.5 billion. Williams also reports that FY2023, which began in July 2022 and ended in June, was the eighth consecutive year in which educational programs in Georgia received at least $1 billion from the state lottery.
Driving those returns in the past fiscal year were new highs in both physical instant win game cards and online ticket sales. At this time, however, the Georgia Lottery has yet to post its financial statements for FY23 on its website.
For that reason, the exact sales totals for those categories are still unavailable. While a return of over $1.5 billion for education is definitely a win for the state’s educational system, the current format of supporting education via a state lottery in Georgia bears some weaknesses.
Online casino and online sports betting, if legalized in the proper way, could start to deal with them.
How expanded gaming could address Georgia’s educational deficiencies
While the Georgia Lottery has contributed billions of dollars to education, those dollars haven’t been mutually beneficial to everyone in the state. Moreover, the funds might not reach where they are most needed.
Naomi Harris of Fresh Take Georgia reported in May 2022 that “in Georgia, Black and Native American students remain the least likely to receive the state’s merit scholarships, and Black students are especially underrepresented among those whose full tuition is covered.”
Harris also added that “only 6% of the Zell Miller recipients are Black and 70 percent are white.” Harris points to the fact that the scholarship funds the Georgia Lottery supports are merit-based and do not take into account whether recipients need the funds.
Expanding gaming could address the gaps in Georgia’s educational supports. However, other issues have sidelined gaming expansion in the state legislature to date. While there are other issues for legislators to iron out besides how to spend state tax revenue from gambling, directing future proceeds to support need-based programs could prove a selling point for some who are hesitant.
The Georgia Lottery has been a successful tool within the legal framework that the state has given it. With future gaming expansion, the state could broaden that framework to benefit all Georgians.