Virginia's Lottery - Beneficial or Not?

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VIRGINIA'S LOTTERY – BENEFICIAL OR NOT?

In 1987, Virginia residents voted on a referendum for a state-operated lottery, and even though, according to an article in the Richmond Times – Dispatch on February 9, 2003, the majority of politicians believed that the state should not be "in the business of promoting gambling" (Robertson), Virginians voted overwhelmingly for the lottery, and consequently the Virginia Lottery was born. According to the Virginia Lottery's Web site, in 1999 all proceeds from the Lottery were allotted to local public schools, to be used for educational purposes, and in 2000 Virginians voted affirmatively on the State Lottery Proceeds Fund, which was an amendment to Virginia's Constitution that directed all Virginia Lottery profits go to education. Every day people purchase Lottery tickets in the hope of hitting the "Jackpot" or even just making a few "extra bucks", and believe they are justified because the money goes to help local schools, but should Virginians rely on the Lottery for the funding of their schools?

Does the Virginia Lottery really help our schools? According to an article from MONEY Magazine (1996), there are two reasons that lotteries don't have as much tax benefits as politicians and the Lottery commission would have us believe. Firstly, even though lottery sales are huge, they do little to help State budget issues, as the proceeds that the schools actually receive are much less than the sales give the impression of what schools should obtain (Keating 144). For example, according to the Virginia Lottery Web site, in 2004 lottery sales were over $1.2 billion, but only a little over $408 million was given to the State Lottery Proceeds Fund (retrieved September 26, 2005 from the World Wide Web: www.valottery.com/money). This seems like a large amount of money. However, if you divide the amount of proceeds by the number of public schools in Virginia (there are approximately 1,850 public schools according to the Virginia...
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