After Record Fiscal Year, TN Lottery Raises Over $5.5 Billion For Education

Posted on August 7, 2020 - Last Updated on August 24, 2020

Like many state-run lotteries, the lottery in Tennessee focuses largely on building revenue for the state’s educational system.

Known as the Tennessee Education Lottery, the TEL recently reached another milestone, having raised more than $5.5 billion since its launch in 2004.

Lottos, dailies and scratchers fund scholarships and programs

During its 16 years in operation, money raised by the TEL has translated into 1.5 million scholarships and grants.

Lottery revenue helps fund 16 different programs for students. The allocation of funds is determined each year by the governor and Tennessee lawmakers.

TEL President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove recently highlighted a few of the programs helped by the lottery.

“We fund HOPE Scholarships and Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect,” explained Hargrove. The TEL also funds Wilder-Naifeh Grants that provide full scholarships to students enrolled at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.

There is a Helping Heroes Scholarship Program for those who have served in the military. The TEL funds student loan forgiveness programs and after school programs. It also funds a program designed to help high school graduates with disabilities go to college.

Other programs include an Energy Efficient Schools Initiative designed to encourage energy efficiency in K-12 schools.

Another program called Tennessee Reconnect helps enable adults enter higher education to gain new skills and help them earn promotions, or simply achieve the goal of obtaining a degree or credential.

The TEL keeps the focus on education in other ways, too. The lottery names an Educator of the Month and highlights the winner on the TEL website. The lottery also invites those who have benefited from TEL-funded programs to share their experiences with its “TEL Your Story” campaign.

Neighbors looking to TN Lottery for revenue-producing ideas

Overall, the Tennessee Education Lottery recently enjoyed its biggest fiscal year to date, with revenue of $1.84 billion generated between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. That was slightly up from the $1.81 billion in revenue the previous fiscal year.

The TEL has been something of a model for other states’ education lotteries. That includes neighboring North Carolina where the lottery was introduced a year after Tennessee.

Tennessee has since legalized online-only sports betting, for which the Tennessee Education Lottery serves as the regulatory body. That will likely provide the state another significant revenue source once the first sports betting sites launch.

North Carolina could potentially be following Tennessee’s lead with regard to sports betting as well.

A recent gaming market analysis ordered by North Carolina lawmakers shows how the state would benefit by authorizing sports betting. The study also outlined the advantages of having the North Carolina Education Lottery provide oversight to sports betting in the state.

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Martin Harris

Martin Harris is a writer and teacher who has reported on poker, online gambling, and sports betting since the mid-2000s. Once a full-time academic (Ph.D., English), he currently teaches part-time in the American Studies program at UNC Charlotte. His book Poker & Pop Culture was published by D&B Books in 2019.

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