Advancing National Service

Play the Lottery, Help a Veteran. Yes, It’s That Easy

August 11, 2014
Play the Lottery, Help a Veteran. Yes, It’s That Easy
Missouri voters were asked to decide if the lotto can include a special ticket which would create funds used for veteran's programs in the state. Screengrab via KOLR
If passed the state would raise an estimated six million a year for programs. Screengrab via KOLR
State voters however fears that any altered of how lotto funds are allocated, would mean less money for education; on August 6, 55 percent of voters rejected the idea. Screengrab via KOLR
Illinois uses lottery funds to benefit veterans. But last week, Missouri voters rejected a similar proposal.

Buying scratch-off lottery tickets might not be the best use of a person’s cash, but since there’s little chance that everyone is going to cease playing their lucky numbers, many states are smartly dedicating a portion of money earned from lottery proceeds to vital programs.

In Colorado, for example, the state lottery funds bike and hiking trail maintenance, parks and recreation construction and maintenance, wilderness education for kids and more. New Jersey’s lottery benefits a variety of schools and education programs. And Missouri legislators recently proposed that lottery funds be dedicated to helping veterans.

Missouri State Representative Sheila Solon decided to sponsor the amendment when she learned that the state’s Veterans Commission was operating at a loss. “The lottery ticket would be one way that we could cover shortfalls for our veterans homes, to help with the upkeep of our veterans’ cemeteries, and also to restore full funding for the outreach programs which are so important for our veterans,” Solon told Linda Ong of Ozarks First.

The amendment proposed that those playing the game of risk be given the option to buy a special veterans ticket, which would generate funds for the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Fund. Currently, lottery funds benefit education in the state.

Ong spoke with one local veteran, John Dismer, who disagreed with the idea. “It’s going to take away from education, because there’s only so many dollars in the lottery system, so you’re going to take some of it away. Now if the education system was real fat and everything, that might be alright. But I don’t think it is.”

In a close vote, many Missouri voters agreed with him — on August 6, 55 percent of voters rejected the amendment.

But this probably isn’t the last we’ll hear of this funding idea.  After all, since 2006, a veterans lottery ticket in Illinois has generated $11,000,000 for that state’s former service members.

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