Big Powerball jackpot raises ticket sales, profits for state treasury

Money used for pensions, excise tax relief

INDIANAPOLIS - The Powerball frenzy certainly paid off for the two big winners in Arizona and Missouri, and to a lesser extent for the two new Hoosier millionaires.

But everybody who pays taxes in Indiana won at least a little bit.

Most of the money paid by ticket-buyers goes for prizes, another chunk goes to the retailers who sell the tickets and some pays lottery overhead.

But the rest counts as profit and goes to the state treasury.

Those profits go to two main beneficiaries -- pensions and tax relief.

Most Hoosiers, even those who play the games regularly, don't know where the profits wind up.

When asked to take a guess about what lottery officials do with the profits, several told RTV6, "Put it in their pockets?"

To be precise, $30 million went to each of the retirement funds for Indiana teachers and police and firefighters.

Another $150 million was used to reduce the amount residents pay for license plates through the auto excise tax.

And the law also specifies any lottery profit over and above what's needed for pensions and auto excise tax relief can be appropriated by the legislature for state and local construction projects.

Lottery spokesman Al Larsen said, "This is a great moment when, whether you play or don't play, you're going to benefit from this, just through net income that's raised when a jackpot goes to that level."

A big jackpot like Wednesday's generates more money for the state by jacking up sales, $13 million for Powerball alone in just four days. Thirty-seven cents of each of those dollars goes to the treasury.

"So you're looking at about $5 million over the last four days that was generated for citizens of this state," said Larsen.

Surveys in most states show that the majority of people think lottery profits go to education, even when in most of those states, it doesn't.

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