Where does Arizona's lottery money go?

PHOENIX, AZ - Ever wonder where all the money spent on the Arizona Lottery ends up?

For every dollar being spent on the big Powerball jackpot Wednesday night, 60 cents gets paid out in winnings.

Another 15 cents goes to running the lottery and the state keeps about 25 cents.

But one economist says the state's take isn't as beneficial as it seems.

Last fiscal year, the Arizona Lottery filled state coffers with nearly $165 million.

That money goes to places like ADOT and the Department of Education. Programs that stand to benefit from the record Powerball jackpot.

"At the end of the day, when the lottery has big increases in sales, state programs and beneficiaries get more money as well," said Arizona Lottery spokesperson Karen Bach.

Bach tells ABC15 the retailers themselves also benefit economically.

In addition to lottery players potentially buying a doughnut or cup of coffee, retailers also get a 6.5% commission on every ticket they sell.

"If they sell a winning ticket, they're going to get a percentage of that as well," said Bach.

"It's a transfer of wealth, it's not creating any wealth," said Scottsdale economist Elliott Pollack.

Pollack says the $2 someone spends on a lottery ticket is money they would have spent anyway.

"This is not money they take out of savings to buy lottery tickets," said Pollack. "This is the normal cash flow of life, let's call it."

Pollack calls the lottery a voluntary tax and, as a result, the lottery provides little if any boost to Arizona's economy.

"At least in Vegas, you're bringing in money from the outside," said Pollack. "Here you're not bringing in money from the outside. It's people from Arizona."

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