Jerry Kopel


Will Powerball continue to be a lottery best or turn into a lottery bust? Will Amendment 33 (video lottery terminals at five race tracks) ever give a penny for use by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)?

Although the report from the accounting firm that audits the 2002-2003 lottery fiscal year won't be made public until late September or early October, some general numbers are now public.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2003 the total sum wagered was $391.4 million. The four categories making up the total bet: Lotto, $48 million; scratch tickets, $254 million; Cash 5, $13 million; Powerball, $75 million.

That's nearly a $17 million drop from the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2002, when total sales were $408 million. That year the lottery also gained an extra $4 million from a one-time sale of stock (from the conversion of mutual or policy owned insurance companies policies to publicly owned stock companies) and $2 million in interest income.

Lotto has dropped from $57.7 million to $48 million. Cash 5 stayed pretty even, dropping only $200,000. Scratch tickets dropped from $257.2 million to $254 million. Powerball, that game that was going to bring so much money into the lottery fund dropped from $79.9 million to $75 million. Prize money dropped from $239 million to $227 million.

Of course, $391.4 million is a good sum, but not that far above the $371 million wagered in the year that ended June 30, 2000 (when there was no Powerball game) or even the $373.3 million wagered in fiscal year 1998.

One of the items in Amendment 33 (the VLT ballot issue) is a provision for payment of moneys to Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) after allocations are made from present-type lottery games. In 2001-2002, GOCO received $46.5 million from the lottery profits. That was the total amount GOCO could get under the constitutional language.

The amount received yearly CANNOT exceed "$35 million to be adjusted each year for changes from the Consumer Price Index-Denver." In 2002-2003, GOCO received $48.7 million.

Unless the price index starts going crazy, or unless the amount of other lottery revenue drops enormously (which it could), the amount of funds received by GOCO from the VLT profits will be negligible.

That's not the position of Colorado's legislative council which states in its final draft of the Blue Book that will be sent to voters regarding Amendment 33 that "projections of revenue from current lottery games suggest that lottery revenue will not be sufficient to reach the GOCO cap during each of the next three years."

It would have been helpful to identify the source of the "projections" and the "track record" of those projections being shown as accurate. Three words would have been sufficient, "lottery commission" and "good". That did not happen. I wonder why?

(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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