APPLETON - The Wisconsin Lottery is raking in record profits and that in turn benefits taxpayers.
That was a key selling point when the lottery was approved, that some of the gambling sales would go to reduce property taxes.
But state auditors think taxpayers could benefit even more.
If you have an itch to play the lottery, the Wisconsin Lottery has a dizzying array of games to choose from. But the state's audit bureau says games requiring a licensing fee are not a good gamble for the state.
That includes three new Packers scratch games that go on sale Friday.
The report recommends the Wisconsin Lottery stop offering games which involve license fees. That's because according to the report, non-licensed games outperform them.
The audit bureau says, "While all lottery games generate revenue to be used for property tax relief, they question whether the additional expenses associated with trademarked and copyrighted properties maximizes the net revenue available for this purpose."
But try to telling that to retailers who say those tickets are good for business.
"Everybody knows the Packers and everybody knows Monopoly so paying for that name recognition sure helps," said Festival Foods Appleton Store Director Paul Anderson.
The Wisconsin Lottery has paid more than $700,000 to license eight instant scratch games. The most expensive, but also the most profitable, is the Green Bay Packers games. Each new edition of Packers lottery games costs the lottery a $260,000 licensing fee. Instead the report recommends diverting those funds back to taxpayers through property tax relief.
But the state Department of Revenue says the return on investment for taxpayers speaks for itself.
"It's part of our marketing strategy and we feel that partnering with brands like the Packers, Brewers, Monopoly and others that we partner with help to make us stronger," said Dept. of Revenue Spokesperson Laurel Patrick.
Department of Revenue officials note all of the licensed games are profitable. And, they say, that makes them worth the investment and a gamble that will pay off for taxpayers.
Over the last five years, 28 percent of sales have gone to property taxpayers.
The newest Packers-themed gambling games go on sale Friday with tickets ranging from one to five dollars.
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