Pennsylvania State Representative Julie Harhart of the 183rd District, recently reported that "as the state with the fourth largest population of older residents, we rely heavily on programs to serve our senior citizens. We are fortunate the Pennsylvania Lottery is the only lottery in the nation that contributes all of its proceeds exclusively to programs benefiting the senior community. Since its inception in 1971, the Pennsylvania Lottery has contributed more than $22.5 billion to programs specifically geared toward senior citizens. The 2011-2012 year, in particular, was a record-breaking year, generating more than $1 billion for senior programs."

In her report, she says that more than $50 million in proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery benefited senior citizens in Lehigh and Northampton counties during the 2010-11 fiscal year (the latest year we have complete records for), according to the Pennsylvania departments of Revenue and Aging.

Programs the lottery supports include the 52 Area Agencies on Aging and more than 600 full and part-time senior centers, the PACE and PACENET prescription drug coverage program, shared and free ride programs, the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program and long-term living services.

Locally, seniors in Lehigh County benefited from more than $25.8 million in services in the 2010-11 fiscal year. The breakdown is a follows:

*Area Agencies on Aging and Senior Centers-$3,870,000

*PACE/PACENET-$6,495,182

*Shared and Free Ride Program-$2,250,000

*Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program-$7,463,000

*Long-Term Living Services-$5,770,291

Seniors in Northampton County benefited from more than $24.1 million in services in the 2010-11 fiscal year. The breakdown for this county is as follows:

*Area Agencies on Aging and Senior Centers-$3,426,000

*PACE/PACENET-$8,414,218

*Shared and Free Ride Program-$2,250,000

*Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program-$6,336,000

*Long-Term Living Services-$3,747,091

However, the lottery doesn't just benefit older residents. Lottery prizes paid to winners in Lehigh County amounted to $42,188,036 and prizes paid to winners in Northampton County amounted to $38,768,124. In addition, lottery retailers, many of which are family owned small businesses, earned $183.9 million in commissions in 2011-12.

Although many were worried the introduction of casinos to the Commonwealth would hurt lottery sales, recent numbers prove otherwise.

The Pennsylvania Lottery continues to generate much-needed funding for senior services and revenue for many local businesses.

"I would like to remind anyone who thinks they may be eligible for PACE, PACENET or the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program can contact my office or visit my website at www.JulieHarhart.com [1] for more information and/or assistance applying for the program," says Harhart.