By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – The Georgia Lottery Corp. Thursday reported its most profitable first quarter ever.
The lottery program transferred $389.9 million in profits to education covering July, August, and September, the first three months of fiscal 2023. That surpasses last year’s first quarter transfer by $25.1 million.
“As we celebrate another record quarter for the Georgia Lottery, we’re especially mindful of the direct impact these funds will have on our students and their families,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “Our state’s HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K programs serve an essential role in educating the next generation, and this record-breaking quarter will ultimately benefit those students the most.”
Since its inception in 1993, the lottery has returned more than $25.7 billion to the state for education. More than 2 million students have received HOPE scholarships, and more than 1.7 million 4-year-olds have attended the statewide, voluntary prekindergarten program.
The lottery program has undergone significant changes over the years. The HOPE Scholarships initiative initially set family income limits to qualify but soon switched to a merit-based program as lottery ticket sales greatly exceeded early expectations.
By 2011, demand for scholarships was outstripping HOPE revenues, prompting then-Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly to reduce benefits to the point that only students with grade-point-averages of 3.5 or better in high school could receive full college tuition coverage.
The percentage of tuition costs HOPE is covering for other students receiving scholarships has gradually risen in recent years as the program recovered its financial footing.
However, legislative Democrats have been pushing for Georgia to offer some need-based scholarships as well, using funds that could be generated if the state decides to legalize sports betting and/or casino gambling.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.