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Heading toward its 20th year, the Kentucky Lottery has certainly made its presence known in Taylor County. Last year alone, Taylor Countians bought $3.6 million in lottery tickets. That's an amazing amount of money.
But at the same time, Taylor County has reaped benefits as well. Payback in prizes totaled $2.2 million, while $1.8 million was paid in college scholarships.
At least we got back more than what we paid out.
A story on today's front page details all the aspects of the Kentucky Lottery.
Just for fun, we took an informal poll of the News-Journal's Editorial Board. In the past year, the Board's seven members estimated that they had spent an average of $18 on lottery tickets. And that's an average, because several had spent zero, others quite a bit more. But, apparently, we're not a good cross-section of the community, because if one divides $3.6 million by 25,000 residents, the result is $144.
But, if nothing else, the lottery is helping students pay for their college educations. With good grades, students can earn up to $2,500 in scholarships that they can use for books, school supplies, tuition and more. And they have to keep those good grades in college to continue to receive it.
To give credit where credit is due, the lottery has also provided funds for early childhood reading programs, literacy and educational programs, Vietnam veterans and affordable housing for needy residents.
We can't help but wonder if that $3.6 million could have been better spent. Did lottery ticket money prevent some child from having a home-cooked meal? Did someone go without a new pair of shoes?
You can find good and bad in everything. What we do know is that taking a chance is big business in Taylor County.
That $3.6 million would go a long way in building a new recreational park, but unfortunately people prefer to spend their money on the things that give them pleasure. With that in mind, people are finding that feel-good feeling in the lottery. Either that, or it's an act of desperation for some who feel they can multiply their ready cash into a more significant payday.
It's no way to balance a checkbook, but the lottery people are smart. Why else would they say: "Somebody's gonna win, might as well be you."