Think New Mexico’s bipartisan legislation to increase the accountability of the state lottery and send more lottery dollars to scholarships has been introduced by Representative Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho) and Representative Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque). House Bill 250 would send unclaimed prize dollars (which average $2-3 million a year) to the scholarship fund rather than putting them back in the prize pool. It would also align the interests of the lottery’s managers with the interests of students by requiring that that any bonuses paid to the lottery CEO and outside vendors be calculated based on increases in dollars to scholarships, rather than just total dollars bet on the lottery, as they are currently calculated. Finally, the bill would ban the lottery from expanding into video lottery gaming, “play at the pump” ticket sales at gas pumps, or ticket sales at ATMs.
House Bill 250 has passed the House Labor & Economic Development and the House Business & Industry Committee on votes of 10-0. It will soon be heard by the full House.
Meanwhile, another bill is being pushed by the multinational gaming corporations that contract with the lottery to remove the lottery’s accountability to students and reduce the dollars going to scholarships. Senate Bill 192 would repeal Think New Mexico’s 2007 reform law requiring the lottery to deliver at least 30% of revenues to students.
The 30% minimum has resulted in an additional $9 million a year going to students. However, since most of those dollars came from reductions in the lottery’s contracts with outside vendors (three multinational gaming corporations), those special interests have hired a team of lobbyists to push to roll back this reform. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 192 has passed the Senate on a vote on 24-17 and we are now working to defeat it in the House.