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More Ohio Lottery tickets sold doesn't mean more money for Ohio schools: Legally Speaking

If you're an Ohio Lottery player who is under the impression that more lottery tickets being sold results in more money for schools in our state, you're wrong
Credit: AP
File photo: Mega Millions lottery ticket. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

CLEVELAND — Legal analysis: If you're an Ohio Lottery player who is under the impression that more lottery tickets being sold means more money for schools in our state, you're wrong.

Legally speaking, all profits from the Ohio Lottery go toward covering part of the education budget in Ohio, but the truth is that budget doesn't change when lottery ticket sales skyrocket, like they do when the Mega Millions jackpot soars to $1.1 billion (like it did today). 

That's because the budget for education is set for each year by the Ohio General Assembly, and fluctuations in profits from the lottery don't change those figures.

The education budget is now set using a new formula established under the Fair School Funding plan, which looks at the cost of education in each of Ohio's 609 school districts. 

For the 2023 fiscal year, the state education budget is $12.7 billion. For fiscal year 2022, it was $12.5 billion. Those numbers have nothing to do with how much money the Ohio Lottery makes, even though all lottery profits go toward covering those expenses.

Lottery profits don't actually come anywhere close to covering the entire state budget for education, by the way, according to a breakdown provided by Ohio Lottery communications director Danielle Frizzi-Babb. "The education budget is huge, and the truth is lottery funding only accounts for about 10 percent of the entire school funding budget," she said.

The money for the education budget that's not covered by lottery profits comes out of the General Revenue Fund (GRF), which is made up mostly of federal grants, sales tax and personal income tax.

A representative from the Department of Education shared with me that in 2022, the state ended up with $1.34 billion in lottery profits to commit to K-12 education, which effectively freed up $1.34 billion in the GRF to be used elsewhere.

"If lottery profits are higher than expected, this just gives the General Assembly more funds to appropriate in future budgets," the representative told me.

To put it another way, no matter how many more people play the Ohio Lottery when jackpots hit record numbers like they have so often lately, it won't result in more money going to education. It will, however, result in more money being freed up in the GRF to be used elsewhere by the state.

Stephanie Haney is licensed to practice law in both Ohio and California.

The information in this article is provided for general informational purposes only. None of the information in this article is offered, nor should it be construed, as legal advice on any matter.

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