Ohio Lottery

From Ohio History Central

On May 8, 1973, Ohio voters voted overwhelmingly to amend the Ohio Constitution of 1851 to create a state lottery. Ohio was the tenth state to approve a state lottery. The amendment passed with two-thirds of voters in favor of it. Supporters generally lived in urban areas, while opponents usually lived in rural portions of the state. Proponents of the measure generally sought to eliminate criminal gambling in the state and to keep within Ohio the nearly thirty million dollars Ohioans bet on other state lotteries. Opponents claimed that the Ohio government was promoting a sin. They also claimed that poor or working class people tended to play lotteries and that the state was, in essence, taking money from the people who needed funds the most by establishing a lottery.

It took over one year for the state to create a lottery, with the first drawing occurring on August 22, 1974. In the lottery's first year of existence, the state earned 91.6 million dollars but paid out 41.2 million dollars in prizes. Of the 91.6 million dollars, state officials transferred 36.7 million dollars into the general fund. The remaining money primarily went to pay for the operating costs of the lottery. Beginning in 1983, a sizable amount of lottery proceeds began to finance education in the state. In 2002, the lottery brought in approximately two billion dollars, with just under one-third of those funds being transferred to the state's education fund. Over the lottery's history, more than thirteen billion dollars in lottery proceeds have gone to fund education. In 2005, the state offered multiple drawings each day and also sold instant-win tickets at almost nine thousand licensed dealers. Since 2002, Ohio residents are also able to play Mega Millions, a multi-state lottery. The Ohio Lottery Commission oversees all lottery games in the state.

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