Good Question

Nov 8, 2013 9:56 AM by Jill Valley - KPAX News

Where do the proceeds from the MT lottery go?

MISSOULA - The Montana Lottery began in Montana in 1987 with the debut of the Pot of Gold scratch game.

But the times sure have changed as there are now more than 20 games - including the Montana Millionaire game that went on sale this month.

Montana's lottery is a multi-million dollar business with new ways to win every year, so with all that money changing hands, our "Good Question" is: Where do the proceeds from the Montana lottery go?

Montana voters approved the Montana Lottery through a Legislative Referendum in 1986, with the measure passing by almost 70%. It first went to offset property tax increases by using money to help fund teacher retirement accounts.

But, the state legislature started peeling off some of the cash for other projects in the early 1990's until, and that lasted until the mid-1990's - when it voted to put all of the proceeds in the state's general fund - our state's "checking account."

Montana Lottery money is no longer earmarked for education, although it is still one funding source used for schools.

Governor Steve Bullock proposed a bill in his State of the State address earlier this year that all of the lottery proceeds to Montana schools as promised.

"Voters created the Montana lottery specifically to help fund Montana schools, it's time we did right by our bosses and their kids," Gov. Bullock said.

He went on to ask for support of his proposal to return the profits from the Montana Lottery to the public schools they were intended to support - but his bill died in the following legislative session.

Until state leaders decide otherwise, the money stays in the general fund where it helps pay for things like operating expenses, grants and benefits - and it's a big chunk of change.

The latest estimates from the Montana Lottery office show that it paid more than $13 million to the state last year. Lottery officials say that Powerball is the best money-maker followed by the scratch games.

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