Georgia lottery was set up to benefit education and keep lawmakers from tampering with funds

in Lottery

COLUMBUS (WRBL) - Alabama voters could go to school on how Georgia set up its lottery in the early 1990s. 

All of the revenue generated by the Georgia lottery since its inception in 1993 has gone to educational programs – the majority of it to the HOPE scholarship. 

If Alabama approves a state lottery, the current bill does not have the money earmarked for education.

More than $12 billion has gone to Georgia students over the last 26 years. When late Governor Zell Miller pushed the lottery through, he made certain that politicians could not easily get their hands on the money for pet projects. 

Retired Columbus State University President Frank Brown said there are some lessons to be learned by the way Georgia approached the financial windfall. 

“For one thing, voters in the state generally want to know where the money is going to go," Brown said. "There needs to be some specificity about where the funds will go and what the results will be for the people of the state. And secondly, when the legislation is passed there needs to be a way to protect those funds from other programs – worthy as though they may be – that would tend to reach in and grab those lottery funds because they are easy pickings. Protection of the funds once they are in place is a vital part of the component.” 

Brown led Columbus State University at a time when the lottery money and HOPE Scholarship altered higher education in the state. A student with a B average in high school gets financial assistance when they attend a Georgia college or university. The program has changed some over the years, but as long as the student maintains the B average in college, the HOPE scholarship continues.

That has been appealing, Brown says.

“For one thing, voters in the state generally want to know where the money is going to go," Brown said. "There needs to be some specificity about where the funds will go and what the results will be for the people of the state. And secondly, when the legislation is passed there needs to be a way to protect those funds from other programs – worthy as though they may be – that would tend to reach in and grab those lottery funds because they are easy pickings. Protection of the funds, once they are in place, is a vital part of the component.” 

Last year, the Georgia lottery generated more than $1.1 Billion for educational programs. That is more than $3 million a day going back to students. 

It has greatly benefited Muscogee County students. More than 51,000 students have received nearly $195 million in college scholarship money. More than 39,000 pre-K students have received more than $145 million in state funds. 

 https://www.wrbl.com/news/local-news/georgia-lottery-was-set-up-to-benefit-education-and-keep-lawmakers-from-tampering-with-funds/1964372221