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Georgia Lottery sales falling short | Business

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Georgia Lottery sales falling short

ATLANTA -- Turns out the budget for education expenses was richer than reality.

The Governor's Office says lottery revenues continue to fall short of expected revenue despite that fact that ticket sales are up in the first quarter of this year.

"We budgeted more revenue than we are now expecting to receive," said Governor Nathan Deal's spokesman, Brian Robinson. "We budgeted $903 million in the fiscal year 2012 budget. Fiscal year 2011 lottery deposits to education were $846 million."

11Alive started digging into lottery revenue because of cuts to the Pre-K program. $54 million was cut to make up for falling lottery tickets sales in fiscal year 2011, which ended in June. That caused an exodus of experienced educators from the program.

So how did we get here?

Things started going in the wrong direction in the fiscal year of 2011: Total revenue: $3,597,222,000, down $48,175,000 from the year before, or 1 percent.

That explains the Governor's decision to trim $54 million from the Pre-K program. Still, lottery revenue by the numbers aren't too shabby.

In the first quarter of fiscal year 2012, lottery ticket revenue is up 2.35 percent, or $20 million. If that were to continue through the year, revenue would be up about $30 million over 2010, when it was reaching record highs.

Prize pay outs continue to be high, about 63 percent of total revenue, but the head of the Georgia Lottery Corporation, Margaret DiFrancisco, continued to justify high prize pay outs, in an earlier interview this year.

"If you reduce the prize percentage payout, then they stop playing," she said. "It's that simple." 

The problem is demand for education money is exceeding the demand to take a turn at lady luck.