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California Lottery Sales Are Shattering Records — But Schools Aren’t Hitting The Jackpot

Launderland, a store in Orange County, Calif. has a large selection of lottery tickets available for customers, who play the lottery at higher rates than other counties in Southern California.
Susanica Tam for KPCC
Launderland, a store in Orange County, Calif. has a large selection of lottery tickets available for customers, who play the lottery at higher rates than other counties in Southern California.

The California Lottery is minting money. This year, revenues will soar to $6.9 billion.

That not only breaks a record, it more than doubles the amount from just a few years before. The California Lottery’s revenues now top those at Fortune 500 companies like Clorox, Yum Brands and Harley Davidson.

The recent boom has been fueled by a wave of gigantic jackpots. Newer games like Powerball and a $30 scratch ticket offer huge prizes, and California’s lottery players have responded by gambling more and more.

That should be good news for the state’s schools, the lottery's only beneficiary. Yet even as ticket sales have skyrocketed, California schools aren’t seeing much of a return on that investment. A KPCC/LAist investigation found contributions to education by the lottery are essentially unchanged from 12 years ago, even though revenues are up by billions.

Click on the play button above to hear the audio for this story. And you can head over to LAist.com to read the full story.