With the recent excitement generated from the historic $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot, there has been increased public interest in lotteries in general. There are many people who argue that lottery systems inherently prey more upon the less educated and impoverished populations, taking advantage of their desperate attempts to make it out of the bottom.
On the other hand, it’s also important to consider where a large portion of the money ends up when it doesn’t fund the actual winnings.
According to Fox 31 Denver, 24 cents of every dollar spent on Colorado lottery tickets goes back to the state. One of the areas that money helps support the most is the many state parks, trails, and wildlife in general.
“Our state park system receives no tax revenue. It’s entirely funded through gate receipts and lottery-funded,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, exeuctive director of Great Outdoors Colorado. “We’ve funded city parks, all the major city trails in the Denver metro area.”
The Colorado Lottery has been in existence for about three decades and estimates put the total amount of state funding that’s been collected from it at $3 billion. The Great Outdoors Colorado organization specifically is one of the entities that receives the most from it. In fact, about 50% of ticket revenue (approximately $62 million) goes directly to the organization every year.
Having built over 900 miles of trails and 1,000 parks, recreational fields, and playgrounds — in addition to preserving more than 700 miles of rivers in the state — it’s safe to say a large amount of people have been helped by the lottery — even those who have never won a dime.
Sure, it would be nice to have won a portion of the billion dollar Powerball prize. For many people, winning means never having to work another day, an option that 52% of lottery winners ending up choosing.
At least those “losses,” however, spell a “win” for local communities and state resources.
“You’re buying a ticket that returns something that you can use every day in Colorado for your health and wellness and enjoyment of the outdoors,” Aangeenburg said. “Other proceeds go to the conservation trust fund, parks and wildlife and the Department of Education.”