Results of a recent SoonerPoll show that support for the Oklahoma Lottery is split almost evenly. Results found that 43.2 percent of respondents hold a favorable opinion of the lottery while 44.3 percent find the lottery unfavorable.

The Oklahoma lottery first started in 2004 after State question 705 was passed overwhelmingly, 64.7 percent in favor to 35.3 percent opposed.

“Polling in 2004 showed a strong performance by lottery, which was borne out in the subsequent election,” observed SoonerPoll vice-president Keith Gaddie. “Despite profitability, enthusiasm for the lottery has fallen off in the last five years.”

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, compared two scientific studies that used live interviewers by telephone of 1000 likely voters  from Feb. 25 – March 8, 2010. The study has a margin of error of ± 3.1 percent .

The Oklahoma Lottery is a source of money for Oklahoma schools. State question 706 which appeared on the same 2004 ballot as state question 705 created the Oklahoma Education Lottery Trust Fund which earmarks a portion of the lottery income for education.

Governor Brad Henry has long been an advocate of the education lottery because he believes it provides critical funding for our classrooms and teacher pay.

Respondents who agreed with the statement “if more money is spent on schools in my district, student will learn more,” were 11 points more likely to favor the lottery. 50.8 percent of those who agreed with the statement also had favorable opinions of the lottery, compared to only 39.8 percent of those who disagreed.

“A favorable perspective on lottery is tied to the perception that there are tangible benefits in the classroom,” noted Gaddie. “However, even among those people who see benefits in increased per-pupil expenditures, the lottery is not overwhelmingly endorsed as a means to achieve those ends.”

Recently debate about the lottery has reemerged, as skeptics question how much of the lottery income is actually being spent on schools. This reemergence of debate may have played a part in why favorability has dropped so drastically since it passed in 2004.

Other interesting results bring to light another ever present aspect of the lottery debate, religious belief. 53.1 percent of evangelicals had unfavorable opinions about the lottery compared to just 35 percent of evangelicals with favorable opinions.   Inversely, 52.7 percent of non evangelicals have favorable opinions of the lottery while only 33.5 percent have unfavorable opinions of the lottery.

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