Lottery CEO speaks to Bainbridge Rotary Club

Published 2:53 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Margaret DeFrancisco, the president and CEO of the Georgia Lottery Corporation, spoke Tuesday at the weekly meeting of the Bainbridge Rotary Club.

DeFrancisco said that the lottery brought in $901 million last year for Georgia pre-K students and the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) college scholarship. She stated that 64 percent of lottery revenues are returned to the players as winnings, 25.3 percent goes toward education, and 6 percent is kept by the retailers. Only 0.9 percent goes to administration and overhead, and about 1 percent goes to advertising and marketing, she said.

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In addition, DeFrancisco pointed out that the lottery has raised $13.67 billion for Georgia students, since its inception about 20 years ago. During that same time, 1.1 million kids have gone through the pre-K program and 1.5 million students have received a HOPE scholarship.

“When Gov. Zell Miller began the lottery program, he wanted to improve our state’s education,” she said. “He wanted to keep the best and brightest here at home, which is why money goes toward HOPE, and he wanted to give kids a good start on their education, which is why it also funds pre-K programs.”

DeFrancisco said that Miller’s plan was extremely controversial in the Bible belt state of Georgia. She said that some members of his Young Harris, Ga., church even refused to talk to him after the law was passed.

“It was definitely a challenge to bring a lottery to such a conservative state,” she said.

DeFrancisco gave two pieces of advice to players. She said that buying tickets in bulk does not increase the odds of winning in large jackpots like “Mega Millions” or “Powerball.” She also said players need to be sure to sign the back of their tickets, for legal reasons.

“Please play responsibly,” she said. “Our last big winner only bought two tickets.”

DeFrancisco said that Decatur County alone has received $170.5 million in education funding, during the nearly 20 years the lottery has been in existence.

She also said that future plans for the lottery include a debit-card based way of playing, and possibly an online-based lottery game.

“We are becoming a cashless society, and we want to try and tap into that market,” she said.