Our view: Lottery ad budget cuts make no sense | Editorials

It is hard to grow revenue without marketing and advertising, but Missouri lawmakers apparently expect the Missouri Lottery to do just that.

Lawmakers reduced the Lottery’s advertising budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021, from $1.5 million to $400,000. This year, the Legislature slashed the Missouri Lottery’s next advertising budget to one dollar. The budget lawmakers passed also reduced funds used to promote the lottery at events such as St. Louis Cardinals games, the Forest Park Balloon Festival and more. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, those events helped generate more than $782,000 last year.

What are legislators thinking? The move brought a response.

The lottery’s longest-serving director announced she was stepping down over the foolishness. May Scheve-Reardon has served as lottery director for more than 13 years. She says she’ll stay through July 29.

It is hard to blame her. How can an organization tasked with funding education through sales do that job when it can’t advertise?

The Missouri Lottery was created in 1985 and is operated and funded by the state. Its proceeds to help fund the state’s public education programs. According to its website, annual lottery contributions comprise about 4 percent of the state’s funding for public education. The Missouri Legislature determines how the lottery is funded and how the education proceeds will be allocated.

But lawmakers have spent the past few years gutting the advertising and promotion budget for this source of education revenue. No they cut the ad budget to a token dollar — again, what are legislators thinking?

Rationally, one would think the goal would be to secure as much revenue for education as possible. Successful sales largely depend on a robust ad budget and regular promotions. It seems as if lawmakers are seeking to torpedo a significant source of revenue for our education budget.

It isn’t as if the state is strapped for cash and can’t afford the outlay. Right now, the coffers are full. It is a cliche because it’s true: You have to spend money to make money. The sensible move would be to take advantage of the state being flush with cash to restore the marketing and ad budget for the lottery — but lawmakers gutted it instead.

What are lawmakers thinking? We don’t know, but their actions could result in lottery revenues withering to the detriment of public education.

That is something for which lawmakers will have to answer to voters.

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Matt Lucas

Writer by day and an aspiring Artist by night. Creative thinking is what I'm all about. Lottos are one of my passions and I'm happy to be contributing to Lottery Papa News

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