South Carolina’s Lottery Revenues Are Taxable


The South Carolina lottery is popular with middle-class men, as evidenced by a study of the state’s players and revenue sources. According to the survey, about 17 percent of South Carolina residents play the lottery regularly. Thirteen percent of lottery players play about once a week, while the rest play one to three times per month. In South Carolina, frequent lottery players tend to be middle-aged, high-school educated men from middle-class families.

The evolution of state lotteries

State lotteries are an enduring case study in piecemeal public policy. Politicians face increasing pressure to increase revenues while lottery players are looking for painless ways to boost their wallets. Yet lottery proceeds are also a form of governmental free-spending. In Ohio, for example, the lottery contributed $671 million to the state’s education budget in 2016. That amount was only six percent of total funding, so lawmakers had no reason not to factor it in to the final tally. That meant they could spend the money on anything they wanted.

How lotteries work

In theory, lotteries are games of chance with a fixed set of points that correspond to probabilities of different states of nature. However, lottery games are not entirely random; there are varying rules to determine who wins the big prize. The lottery is a decision-making process that involves a random draw, and it is considered gambling when you pay money to gain the chance to win. This is the case with the NBA Draft Lottery, where the winner is determined by the lottery.


Players of the lottery are usually greedy for the things money can buy. However, God does not want us to covet others’ property. Exodus 20:17 and 1 Timothy 6:10 explicitly prohibit us from coveting others’ property. Neither does money solve our problems. In Ecclesiastes, we are warned not to expect riches from an empty heart. Instead, we should work hard for what we have.

Revenue sources

Lottery revenue is not typically classified as miscellaneous or user fees. The Census Bureau lumps all forms of revenue under this catchall category. However, lottery profits fall into the tax category. Consequently, lottery revenues are taxable. Regardless of the revenue source, lottery revenues are a significant source of government revenue. So, how can lottery revenues be classified as taxed? Here are a few examples. To understand how lottery revenue can be taxed, consider the following:

Addiction to lotteries

Lottery fraud is rampant, even in states that regulate them. Many vulnerable families, who do not have the financial security to support a family, opt to purchase tickets and keep on spending. These people have no idea how to protect themselves, and thus, continue buying lottery tickets year after year. The poorest are also the most affected by lottery addiction. It is not uncommon for poor families to be victims of fraud, which is why the government tries to curb this problem by enforcing stricter regulations.

Per capita spending

The numbers may shock you. In fiscal year 1989, lottery receipts were only $550 million, according to the director of the Bureau of the Budget. But the amount doesn’t reflect the overall amount of entertainment dollars spent by Americans. Although lottery officials describe the games as entertainment, per capita spending has little relation to them. In fact, the number of lottery winners in one state is about the same as the number of poor people in another. So, if you want to know how much money the lottery industry makes, you need to know where people are living.