Lawmakers consider lottery tickets to fund veterans services

As Indiana lawmakers consider a scratch-off lottery ticket to fund services for veterans, it's unclear if the tickets would be allowed under the contract with the company that operates the state's lottery.

Two bills were debated Tuesday in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, the Evansville Courier & Press reported. One would provide funding for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and the other would provide assistance to homeless veterans.

Even if the Legislature approves the new lottery tickets, it's uncertain when they could be sold. They're not specified in the existing contract with Gtech Indiana, which runs the Hoosier Lottery.

State Sen. Mike Delph, chairman of the committee, delayed a vote on the bills until the issue could be reviewed. He said his intention is to advance the legislation this session.

"I believe that if we can move forward with the scratch-off lottery ticket, we can blow this out," Delph said. "I believe in the people of Indiana, and I know their character, and I know they'll respond if we ask them to."

Delph's proposal would provide money for hyperbaric oxygen therapy for veterans with a brain injury or PTSD. Patients are exposed to pure oxygen during the therapy. People have given anecdotal evidence of success, though the benefits of the treatment haven't been proven with studies.

State Sen. Ron Alting's proposal would dedicate the scratch-off revenue to helping the nearly 700 homeless Indiana veterans, including more than 300 in Marion County.

The lottery ticket would generate an estimated $1.1 million to $2.1 million in funding annually.

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