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The Public Benefits of Lottery Funds

Lottery is an arrangement in which prizes are awarded to individuals in a way that depends entirely on chance. Typical examples include the allocation of units in a subsidized housing block or kindergarten placements. States have historically enacted these arrangements to provide money for services without incurring onerous taxes on the middle class and working class.

Many people play lotteries in order to win big jackpots. However, many of these winnings will be subject to hefty tax obligations, leaving most lottery players with much less than they bargained for. Americans spend over $80 billion on lotteries each year – about $600 per household. That money could be better used to build emergency savings or pay down debt.

Most of the money outside your winnings ends up back in the state you bought your ticket from, where it can be earmarked for any number of public service goals, from supporting gambling addiction or recovery programs to funding local infrastructure like roadwork and bridge work. The vast majority of the money, however, goes to education – both K-12 and higher education. You can use the map below to explore how each county uses lottery funds and see where your local school districts rank in terms of lottery contributions by comparing their percentage of state funds against average daily attendance or full-time enrollment.