Eye On Boise

Otter on state lottery sales increase: 'Purest form of voluntary taxation'

Gov. Butch Otter, second from right, joins other state officials to receive a giant mockup of a check for the $17 million Idaho's permanent building fund is getting from state lottery proceeds this year. (Betsy Russell)
Gov. Butch Otter, second from right, joins other state officials to receive a giant mockup of a check for the $17 million Idaho's permanent building fund is getting from state lottery proceeds this year. (Betsy Russell)

Idaho's state lottery has set a seventh consecutive record for the dividend it turns over to the state this year, handing over $36.5 million in lottery profits to the state's schools and the permanent building fund.  It marked the third consecutive year that Idaho Lottery sales have increased. Asked why he thinks lottery sales have continued to increase despite the economic downturn, Gov. Butch Otter said, "It's probably the purest form of voluntary taxation. I think people want to support the school system, but they also want to win some money." And in tough times, winning money may seem more attractive, he said.

"We've been very fortunate in Idaho ... maintaining the integrity and the honesty of our lottery system," Otter said. "We've not seen at least a lot of the predicted gaming addictions. We're very watchful for those." He noted that he endorsed the concept of a state lottery back in 1986 when he was running for lieutenant governor. "I felt at the time, if people want do to it, they ought to be free to buy a lottery ticket," Otter said. This year's dividend is split with $17 million each going to schools and the permanent building fund, and $2.5 million going to the school bond levy equalization fund. Here, Otter and state officials hold a giant check for the permanent building fund portion.




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Betsy Z. Russell




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