Why does the Lottery need to borrow money?

I see that the Oregon Lottery is going to the well and borrowing $220 million from bankers and other Wall Street types this week. For the life of me, I can't understand why. The "lottery" (a collection of gambling rackets, really) is a cash cow. Last year the state's net revenue from the games, after paying out prizes, was more than $1.4 billion. That's the whole point of it. The suckers, born every minute, keep throwing money at the jackpots, and the state keeps about half of it.

But by spending it faster than it comes in, the state winds up paying a big pile of interest to society's 1 percent. Wouldn't it be better policy to just wait until the money comes in before handing it out?

Anyway, the official sales document for the new IOU's, here, provides some interesting information if you're willing to slog through it. For example, here we get a glimpse of who's getting Lottery handouts in the near future:

I'm sure you could have a field day picking apart the merits of funding some of those pork barrels. But that's not my point, at least not for today. What I want to know is why we have to be mortgaging the lottery and paying interest rather than just waiting for the gamblers to pour the money in before spending it.

Please don't tell me that all the other states do it – I won't accept that as an answer. And before you assume that the decisions of the money managers in Salem are beyond question, remember who ran the State Treasury for years. His name is Ted Wheeler. Clearly, it doesn't take a genius to warm that seat.


  1. Wasn’t the lottery supposed to support schools?

  2. Totally agree. But then again, when did the term "Fiscal Responsibility" ever land on anyone's voter porn?

  3. Why should the brain donors in our state government stop their spending habits just because the cash flow has slowed down. Kinda like an irresponsible teenager with an indulging rich uncle.

  4. Wow. Just wow. File under WTAF.

  5. $10 million to the Behavioral Health Resource Center? The place Multnomah County shut down due to security doing blow and therapists screwing the janitors?

    1. Nothing succeeds like failure. Deadly Deborah's Druggie Day Spa.

  6. Why in *&$%#!? Is lottery rake off treated as a separate line item and used to fund obviously grafty and slushy earmarks? Why not just put lottery money in the general fund and use regular appropriations?

    Also, why aren’t charges on airlines paying for “seismically resilient runway” design?


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