Lottery doesn’t benefit communities evenly, report says

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)  -We know that lottery sales get returned to our communities in the form of local aid, but it’s not spread out evenly.

Nine-hundred million dollars went to Massachusetts cities and towns in 2013 to fix roads, hire more police officers, and improve school programs for our kids, and that money came from all the times you tried your luck on a state lottery game. Twenty-percent of ticket sales goes into a state funding pool, which is returned as local aid.

But according to research by the Boston Globe, there are 189 cities and towns in Massachusetts that contribute more to the state lottery local aid fund than they receive back in aid. The distribution formula is based on factors like population and property value, which critics say can be misleading.

It means wealthier communities might receive millions more in local aid, compared to poorer regions where people are more likely to be buying tickets.

For example, people in Springfield contributed close to $22 million to the pool, and received $32 million in aid. Amherst gave just over $1 million from lottery sales, and got back more than $7 million. In West Springfield on the other hand, lottery players contributed close to $4.9 million to the state pool, and received only $3 million in local aid.

Click here to see how much money your community contributed and received.

“Say I worked in Wilbraham and I bought them there and I’m from Chicopee. It should be divided equally,” Barbara Cebula of Chicopee said.

State lottery leaders point out they don’t divvy up the money; it’s their job to raise it.

“I’d buy more lottery tickets if I knew it was going back to community to help kids and lower class living,” Robert Letendre of Chicopee said.

Economists say other factors — like the poverty rate, unemployment, and the number of jobs — should also be considered.

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