This is just what school districts need to hear right about now.
Texas lottery officials are monitoring a decline in ticket sales that they say could reduce the amount of money the lottery sends to public schools if the trend continues.
“There’s a lot of speculation that it’s tied to higher gasoline prices,” said Robert Heith, lottery communications director. “But we don’t have any studies to confirm that.”
Overall, lottery ticket sales statewide for this fiscal year are running 1.8 percent behind last year, according to a May 17 report.
In addition to the economy, Heith said the lottery could have been hurt this year because it hasn’t had as many big jackpots, which increase ticket sales.
The state lottery has been transferring about $1 billion yearly to the Foundation School Program, a fund that goes to local school districts, since 2004, but the amount could slip below that number this year.
Through April 30, the Texas Lottery Commission estimated that it will transfer $621 million to the fund, but it had an additional four months in its fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31. If the trend holds, the money going to the Foundation School Program would be about $930 million.
The lottery’s assistance is significant to public schools. The state has appropriated $19.8 billion to the Foundation School Program for next year.
The Lottery Commission is hoping to turn the sales numbers around.
“We’re doing our best to improve sales,” Heith said.
The lottery regularly introduces new games, and later this summer, it will unveil another $50 scratch-off ticket. Last year, a similar high-dollar ticket boosted revenue in the final quarter, and lottery officials are hoping for a similar effect.
I’ll never understand the allure of high-priced lottery tickets, but if I have to hope they succeed so that the schools don’t get short-changed, I will.