The Oregon Lottery launched what would seem like a thoughtful and well-intentioned event called “Scratch-it for Schools.” It’s a way to promote the lottery to achieve revenue for the state while providing proceeds to local schools. Last year the Lottery raised about $86,000 on the event, but the states school budget is over $6.2 billion. An increase in the budget of .00014 percent hardly seems very beneficial to Oregon Schools, but that’s hardly the point. The Oregon Lottery claims that the event is not about helping schools; it’s a promotional program for the Lottery.
The real problem is not that the Lottery is choosing to promote its self-interests with a slick PR campaign. The problem is that Scratch-it for Schools invited K-12 public schools to participate in the event. They encouraged the schools to register online from their personal computers because most schools block the Lotteries website. Teams of eight adults will then be selected to scratch as many tickets as possible with the school keeping the proceeds.
This type of promotion is careless and is designed specifically to plant the seed in children early that gambling is acceptable. As Chuck Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy said:
Scratch-it for Schools is nothing but a public relations scam peddling the lie that lottery games can be a panacea for schools’ funding shortages, all the while validating gambling in the eyes of our kids.
Instead of helping promote the fantasy that playing the lottery will solve life’s challenges, schools should teach kids the facts of life: taxes, not gambling revenues, are responsible for 90 percent of school funding