Is lottery money benefiting education? - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Is lottery money benefiting education?

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KENNEWICK, Wash.—As state lawmakers continue to grapple with a tight budget, a viewer sent us an e-mail wanting to know where all the money generated from the Washington Lottery goes.

Jane in West Richland writes, "Remember when the lotteries started?  All that money was going to pay for schools, road improvements, etc.  Where's all that money going now?"

The Washington Lottery says in 2011 $510-million were raised in total sales.  A big chunk goes to beneficiaries decided by the state legislature.  $72-million went to the "Washington Opportunity Pathways" account that pays for work study programs from students attending Washington universities, trade school and community colleges.  $40-million goes to the "Early Childhood Program" that pays for preschools in the state.  And, unclaimed prizes, which came to $7-million, goes to the State General Fund.

"One third of unclaimed prizes go to an account called the economics reserve account and this is an account that the government has control over, uses to bring new businesses, to support new businesses in Washington state,' says Allen Harrison, with the Washington Lottery. 

60% goes to winners, plus there's a budget for the convenience stores that sell the tickets, advertising and salaries at the Washington State Lottery.