The Daily Q: Do schools really win in the lottery?

Lottery revenue keeps going up, topping out at $8.44 billion in the past year according to New York Lottery figures released today. Nearly $2.9 billion went to state education spending. The figure represents roughly 15 percent of total state aid to local school districts. (The lottery’s fiscal year ends March 31.)

That’s a lot of losing QuickDraw tickets. With the games collecting record sums, we want to know: Is school lottery funding growing as quickly as ticket sales?

What we found

New York’s lottery revenue climbed this year by more than $500 million — from $7.868 billion to $8.44 billion — yet schools actually saw a dip in aid. In the 2010-’11 fiscal year, schools received just over $3 billion from the lottery. That number dropped to $2.9 billion this year despite record revenue levels.

Why the decline? Schools receive 100 percent of the profit from New York’s lottery. So the more profitable the lottery, the more schools receive. In the state budget, legislators actually include an estimate of how much the lottery is expected to contribute to education.

And 2010 was an extraordinarily profitable year for the New York Lottery. The lottery claimed over $400 million in profit on various “extraordinary items” including the licensing deal for the Aqueduct casino and changes in investment policy. These items bumped 2010 profits to an unusually high 38 percent of the total revenue. Between 2007 and 2010, and again in 2011-’12, profits averaged 34 percent of total revenue.

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