Hoosier veterans organizations would receive some lottery ticket revenue under a bill that has passed the Senate, but plans to implement a new scratch-off lottery ticket have been halted.
Senate Bill 517 dedicates $500,000 each year toward grants to pay for county veterans service salaries and resources for veterans who are homeless or suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
That money will come from a lottery ticket already being sold in Indiana, but veterans’ advocates had hoped for a new scratch-off ticket.
“Half a million dollars is more than we would have gotten in the past, but there is a big difference in the revenue we would have gotten from the lottery ticket,” said Lisa Wilken, legislative director for Indiana AMVETS.
According to a fiscal analysis, profits from a new lottery ticket could range from $1.1 million to $2.1 million per year.
At the beginning of the legislative session, there were three bills to create a veterans lottery ticket. Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, authored a bill that would dedicate 40 percent of profits to the general fund and 60 percent to veterans services.
Alting’s bill would have given Hoosier veterans from $660,000 to $1.26 million each year.
Indiana is ranked 16th in veteran population size and 22nd in how much is spent on veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Wilken said they need more. Alting said he took out the separate scratch-off language because of the potential for a breach of contract with
GTECH Indiana, the company that operates the lottery.
“Any time you would do a separate, an additional scratch-off, you put the contract between the lottery and the state of Indiana in jeopardy,” Alting said. “It’s just in the way that the contract is written.”
But, Dennis Rosebrough, Hoosier Lottery director of public relations, said “There was no question the state could do it.” “We can create any ticket we want; that’s not the issue,” Rosebrough said.
Under the bill, the veterans organizations would receive money from a scratch-off ticket that already helps fund teacher and firefighter pensions and the Build Indiana Fund. Alting said a separate lottery ticket could affect the success of the one in place, possibly decreasing profits for both the state and the lottery company.
In 2015, the state received more than $240 million from the ticket.
Wilken said they plan to fight for the original bill language in the House, but Alting warned If the bill was reverted to its original state, it would not pass. “Anything that is added in the House jeopardizes the entire bill and the $500,000 that could possibly go to Indiana veterans,” Alting said. “So don’t let greed overrun you on this bill and accept what we can get.”