Since You Asked: Lottery books do get audited

As of May 9, 2007 no person has won Megabucks (over 40 consecutive drawings) yet it increases only $200,000 per drawing. Retailers I have talked to say sales increase between 5 to 10 times normal when the total prize money gets as high as it is now ($9-plus million).

Since all this extra money isn't going to the lottery prize money, where is it going? Is there any state agency monitoring these people? Someone is getting very wealthy!

— Ed E., Medford

Ed, we'll guess you're not one of the folks getting wealthy off the lottery. Neither are we. But, as they say, you can't win if you don't play. And neither can you lose.

Anyway, there is a state agency monitoring "these people." It's the State Audits Division, which checks the Oregon Lottery's books each year. The audit reports are available for you to examine at online. And the Oregon Lottery Commission is ultimately responsible. Harry and David spokesman Bill Ihle is on the commission; you can reach him at by e-mail.

The simple answer to your question about where the money goes is to prize winners, lottery outlets (Purple Parrots, grocery stores, etc.) lottery machine vendors, and to the lottery itself for administrative expenses (about 5 percent of revenue). Another huge chunk goes to Oregon's schools, economic development, parks and for watershed/salmon rehabilitation.

And the jackpot fluctuates ... the drawing after the one you cited increased by $500,000, the next one $200,000, the next $300,000, and so on. Keep in mind lots of people still win even if the jackpot is not won, so prizes are being paid out all the time. You can see the numbers of winners for the various prizes at online.

Last year Megabucks, which costs 50 cents per play, took in $37.7 million, according to the lottery's 2006 audit, and about 70 percent of the game's take is estimated for prize payouts. The amount of the prizes is determined by the size of the prize pools and the number of winning tickets.

The prize still hadn't been won by the time we answered your question — it's up to $12.3 million. Good luck!

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

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