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What's Our Take
Of That Lotto Money?

By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY — January 2, 2001 – New York State Lottery officials are quick to point out that much of that dollar you spend on a lotto ticket benefits local education.
In fact, according to the NY Lotto’s website (, 38 percent of last year’s lottery revenues – a cool $1.35 billion – ended up in public schools all across the state. Fifty-one percent went to lotto winners, while the remaining amount was divvied up among contractors, retailers and administrators.
But exactly how much ends up in your local school? The numbers vary widely.
As can be seen in the accompanying chart, just because a school district has a large student population (or a small one) doesn’t mean it reaps a corresponding amount of lotto money.
“It’s simple,” says local Assemblyman Jake Gunther (D/C-98th District-Forestburgh). “The Division of Lottery has no formula [to apportion money to school districts]. They collect it and put it in the General Fund.”
From there, explains Gunther, the money goes to local school districts as part of their overall state aid package, determined by a state Education Department formula “based on need, district wealth, equalization rates . . . and, to some extent, politics.”
“The formula tries to take into account many factors,” says Gunther.
Gunther is one state politician who believes that the $1 billion in lotto money (which constitutes approximately five percent of the state’s total aid to school districts) should be used to reduce residents’ taxes; instead, the state legislature has decided every year that the extra tax money in the general fund will simply go elsewhere in the budget. Thus, the lotto money does not truly offset any local costs.
However, he is glad that lottery officials do not determine how to divvy up the public education funds, as they are not in elected offices.
“There should be a separate entity [for such a purpose],” says Gunther, “and that’s the state legislature.”

1999-2000 NY Lotto Distributions to Public Schools

School Total Enrollment Distribution Avg. Amount Per Student

Eldred 784 $140,398.96 $179.08

Fallsburg 1,380 $630,077.94 $456.58

Liberty 1,850 $986,474.63 $533.23

Livingston Man. 741 $281,372.99 $379.72

Monticello 3,451 $1,187,305.61 $344.05

Roscoe 332 $73,560.39 $221.57

Sullivan West 1,767 $656,669.05 $371.63

Tri-Valley 1,230 $295,136.00 $239.95

PLEASE NOTE: Enrollment figures are from this year, while distribution figures are from the prior school year.

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