A Georgia Senate study committee has suggested creating new scratch-off lottery tickets in which the proceeds would directly support military veteran services and programs.
To date, six states offer lottery games that help support veterans’ services for things like mental health counseling, job training, housing assistance and meal programs for disabled veterans, according to Gainesville Times.
The Georgia Lottery Corporation celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. The corporation was created under the leadership of former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller.
The lottery has created billions in revenue from scratch-and-win prizes at convenience shops and money-ball drawings on television, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute found.
A portion of lottery sales proceeds go towards public education like the HOPE scholarship and grants, which helps make a college education more affordable for in-state students. Revenue left over covers overhead, winner payouts or goes to a reserve fund.
State legislation to expand Georgia’s lottery to support veterans has been in discussion since 2013, but nothing has yet been determined, the Senate committee reported.
Similar legislation in Florida, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont has failed in recent years.
Critics of legislation of this type say that lotteries are unpredictable sources to fund important social service programs, and usually are supported by low-income individuals who play more frequently than those of a higher income.
However, support for veterans is usually an important topic of discussion of government officials of both parties, and funding from lottery games supporting veterans could help attract them to the state.
Johnny Varner, a Hall County resident who retired from the Army in 2006, told Gainesville Times that Georgia is a wonderful place to live and work as a veteran as a result of the state’s job market, high quality of life and relatively low cost of living in comparison to other states.
If lawmakers approve the suggestions, profits from the new lottery games would be redirected to the state Department of Veterans Service, which would then distribute the funds to the correct service agencies.