When you buy a Washington lottery ticket, where does the money go?



(The Center Square) – A Washington state man came oh-so-close to the mother of all Christmas presents.

The man matched four white balls and the red Powerball during the Monday – Christmas Day – drawing, as reported in The Olympian. That’s one number shy of the big win. The winning six numbers were 5, 12, 20, 24 and 29, with a Powerball of 4.

According to Washington’s Lottery, narrowly missing the big jackpot scored the man $50,000, instead of the $638 million Powerball jackpot. A California player also matched the first five numbers; however, that person scored $2.08 million because Powerball prize levels in California are based on pari-mutuel calculations – that is, prizes can vary for each draw depending on sales and the number of winners.

Since no one scored the jackpot, the next top prize for Wednesday night’s Powerball is estimated to be $685 million.

Back to Washington. Where do all the proceeds from lottery sales in the Evergreen State go?

When the state lottery first kicked off in 1982, all proceeds went into the general fund.

That money can be used for anything from education to public safety to health care and more.

But as Rep. Mike Steele, R-Chelan, points out, in 2000 voters approved a measure that dedicated a chunk of lottery profits to the Student Achievement Fund, and the Education Construction Fund.

Then came the 2008-09 recession and the state was in a budget crunch.

Lottery money was then funneled back into the general fund to patch up deep holes in the budget.

In 2010, lawmakers created the Opportunity Pathways Account, which Steele described as a “piggy bank that funds all sorts of school-related things from early childhood education to charter schools and more.”

Washington’s Lottery website notes that “last year alone Washington’s Lottery was able to generate more than $217 million for programs that benefit communities throughout the state. With those funds the Lottery was able to pay college tuition for more than 9,900 Washington residents, provide $40 million to the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, contribute to Washington’s Economic Development Account, combat problem gambling in the state, and so much more.”

According to research, approximately 60% of the revenue from state lotteries goes directly to winners, with states keeping the remaining cash after paying out the prize money and paying certain costs such as advertisements.

According to Washington Lottery’s website, profits to the state outside of winnings in 2022 broke down like this:

$45.6 million in commissions for retailers (5.02%)$57.8 million to cover the cost of running the lottery (6.35%)$14.98 million for administration (1.65%)$6.21 million to boost the Economic Development Account (0.68%)$33.65 million to the General Fund (3.7%)$430,000 to the Problem Gambling Account (0.05%)$176.55 million to the Opportunity Pathways Account (18.2%)

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