Despite boom year, Ohio lottery seeks more money in budget


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Lottery has turned over a record $1.06 billion to education programs in what ended up being a boom year for the lottery.

Now it’s seeking a bigger allotment in the state budget to fund payroll, jackpot expenses and advertising as officials say consumers’ gambling habits are changing with the availability of Ohio casinos and racinos, as well as fantasy sports and online gambling, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The lottery wants a $32 million increase in the upcoming two-year budget, but Republican Gov. John Kasich has warned agencies that revenue is shrinking and they should prepare for funding to hold steady or drop slightly.

The lottery’s executive director, Dennis Berg, said in a letter to the state budget director that this fiscal year saw sales rise for all lottery games in Ohio, including drawings, scratch-off games and electronic slots at racetrack casinos. Traditional lottery games logged over $3 billion in sales, an increase of about $167 million. There was a big boost when the national Powerball jackpot climbed to $1.59 billion and Ohioans bought $96.4 million in tickets for the game during that run, providing the state with almost $40 million in profits.

The lottery is urging lottery agents to accept debit and credit cards for lottery ticket purchases in hopes of increasing sales to younger adults who are considered less likely than older generations to keep cash with them, Berg said.