November 15, 2011
STATE LOTTERY GAMES THAT SUPPORT PROGRAMS FOR VETERANS
By: Joseph R. Holstead, Associate Analyst
You asked about the sale of lottery scratch ticket games that support veterans' programs in other states, including who runs them and how much money is generated.
Several states fund programs that support veterans by using the proceeds from the sale of lottery games, which are marketed and sold as supporting veterans, including Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, and Washington. In each case, the state lottery agency runs the games.
In Illinois, Texas, and Washington (the three states for which information was most readily available), lottery games supporting veterans' programs have respectively generated approximately:
1. $9 million since its 2006 inception (IL),
2. $11 million during its first 18 months (November 2009 through April 2011) (TX), and
3. $2.9 million during two months of sales this year (Labor Day through November 10) (WA).
Additionally, the legislatures of both New York and Vermont recently considered legislation to authorize a lottery game to raise funds for veterans programs, but in both cases the bills died in committee.
LOTTERY GAMES SUPPORTING VETERANS PROGRAMS
Illinois' legislature authorized a lottery scratch ticket game, beginning January 1, 2006, to fund grants to organizations that help veterans. The law requires the game's proceeds to be deposited into an interest-bearing account called the Illinois Veterans Assistance Fund, which the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) administers (20 ILCS 1605/21.6).
According to the IDVA, its “Veterans Cash Grant Committee reviews applications [on a quarterly basis] and awards grants to groups that help address PTSD, homelessness, health insurance costs, long-term care and disability benefits.”
According to the IDVA, since 2006, more than 160 organizations have shared about $9 million in funding.
For more information, visit IDVA's website: http://www2.illinois.gov/veterans/programs/Pages/veterans-cash.aspx.
In 2009, Texas' legislature passed a law creating a lottery scratch-off ticket game, the proceeds from which are required to be used to support veterans through the state's Permanent Fund for Veterans' Assistance. The fund, established by law in 2005, distributes money to local and statewide veterans' programs that include job-placement assistance, nursing care, scholarship, and counseling among other things (Tex. Code Gov. §§ 466.027 and 434.017(a)).
Specifically, the law authorizes the Texas Lottery Commission, which runs the sale of scratch off tickets for veterans, to “…market and advertise the lottery game … in a manner intended to inform the public that the game tickets are available for purchase and that the game proceeds are used to fund veterans programs in this state,” (Tex. Code Gov. § 466.027).
Regarding funds raised from scratch ticket sales, according to an April 6, 2011, Houston Chronicle article, “About $11 million has been netted since the tickets were first sold on Veterans Day 2009, with grants given to groups statewide. The $2 scratch-off ticket has helped 37,000 Texas veterans.” The entire article is available at this link: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Senators-urged-to-protect-Veterans-Cash-1597374.php.
Earlier this year, Washington's legislature passed a law authorizing a raffle ticket game to raise funds that benefit the state Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) Veterans Innovations Program (VIP), “which provides crisis and emergency relief, as well as education, training, and employment assistance for Washington veterans returning from post-9/11 conflicts,” according to a Washington Lottery and WDVA joint press release: http://www.walottery.com/MediaCenter/MediaCenter.aspx?id=576.
According to the Washington Lottery Commission website, the legislature enacted the law after it became apparent that state funding for VIP, which was created in 2007, would run out in 2012. The Commission runs the $10 raffle ticket game, called “The Hometown Heroes Raffle,” which by law goes on sale from Labor Day through November 10, with the drawing on Veterans Day (RCWA §§ 67.70.240 and .500).
The game raised approximately $2.9 million during the two months it was on sale this year, according to the commission's website: http://www.walottery.com/heroes/results.aspx#win.
NEW YORK AND VERMONT
Although we did not find that New York or any of the New England states have a lottery game specifically benefitting veterans programs, the New York and Vermont legislatures each recently considered bills to establish lottery games to raise funds to benefit veterans.
In 2011, New York's bill, AB 7564A, An Act to Amend the Tax Law in Relation to Authorizing the Creation of the Veteran Assistance Lottery Game, proposed using lottery sale proceeds from a scratch ticket game marketed specifically to raise funds for a veterans' tuition assistance program. It died in committee: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A07564&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Votes=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y.
During its 2009-2010 session, Vermont's legislature considered a bill to create a lottery game to support a fund for veterans. The bill, H. 728, An Act Relating to Instant Scratch-Off Games for the Benefit of Veterans, died in committee.
According to a March 13, 2010, Rutland Herald article about the bill:
…lawmakers and other officials are worried that the new veterans' tickets might eat into lottery proceeds that provide about $21 million annually to the Vermont Education Fund. Money spent on scratch-off tickets for veterans, according to Steve Jeffrey, executive director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, could cannibalize revenue from the Education Fund.
The entire article is available here: http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20100313/NEWS04/3130369.