by Max Brantley
Here's a good bit more from Gov. Mike Beebe's radio show musings yesterday about whether money spent on the lottery has diverted money from other spending that might have produced general tax revenues. He noted, too, Tennessee's recent experience with lottery revenues falling short of expectations on funding college scholarships. He said of the lottery:
“Apparently it’s performing pretty well. … It might be performing so well that people aren’t spending money in other places they might have spent it,” Beebe said on his monthly call-in show on the Arkansas Radio Network.
... “Obviously if people are spending money at the levels that apparently it’s coming in, then if they’ve got just a limited amount of money, then … they’re not spending it on something else,” Beebe said Friday. “I don’t know if you can quantify that, or how we can, but we’re looking at trying to see if we can figure out what that number actually is.”
We'll have a bottom line on the lottery in a decade or so. Odds favor a replication of the South Carolina experience -- college students there are paying a greater portion of rising college costs than they were before the college scholarship lottery came on the scene. It's an old story. The California lottery was supposed to save education financing there. Don't look. It's a disaster area.
It's a rare state that has experienced a steady growth curve on lotteries without more expenditures on advertising, new games, more gambling. It will be interesting, too, to study demographic spending patterns versus demographics of scholarship recipients. Will there be a disproportionate transfer of lottery revenues (a tax, essentially) from lower income groups to higher income groups? Lots of time to talk about it. Forever, really. The majority love the lottery. It's not likely to be deauthorized.