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Lawmakers propose cutting lottery advertising budget

The proposal comes as Gov. Scott Walker has called for increasing advertising spending on the lottery.

The Wisconsin Lottery’s promotional advertising would be scaled back and its annual advertising budget would be cut under a bipartisan proposal introduced Tuesday.

The proposal from Rep. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield, and Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, would ban the Department of Revenue from collecting email addresses and promoting the lottery through a “players club.”

It would further prohibit the use of lottery winner names or lottery retail locations in advertising, and it would require that all required disclosures in lottery broadcast ads be delivered in a normal speaking voice.

It also would limit advertising to $5 million a year, a 33 percent reduction from the current level.

The Wisconsin State Journal first reported in March that Gov. Scott Walker, who as a lawmaker advocated for a statewide referendum on whether to end the lottery, wants to increase lottery advertising by $3 million a year in the 2017-19 budget.

Walker’s goal was to boost lottery sales to increase a state property tax credit. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the increased advertising would yield about $2 million in lottery tax credits over the biennium or for an average homeowner about $1 in property tax savings per year.

In a memo to legislators seeking co-sponsors, Hutton and Risser said they don’t believe “Wisconsin taxpayers would support that rate of return.”

They also noted the state’s constitutional prohibition on promotional advertising for the lottery.

State law allows certain advertising that publicizes the existence of a lottery, though Hutton and Risser said the current ad campaign has “strayed” into promotional advertising.

“Rather than spending additional millions of dollars that have little effect on lottery revenue and potentially violate the constitution, this money can be redirected towards further property tax relief,” they wrote.

Spokespeople for Walker and the Department of Revenue did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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Matthew DeFour covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.