Right off the bat, I’ll address the question I would have after reading that title and that’s “Is this an April Fool’s Joke?” And the answer is no, I’m being completely serious when I say that Alabama has no forms of a lottery or really any fully-authorized gambling except for a couple of Indian casinos that the state government can’t stop.
As Mega Millions fever gripped the nation this week, there was a deafening silence coming from the 8 states (Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming) that do NOT have it. However, even saying eight states is misleading since nowhere near that many have zero forms of gambling. Florida has their own lottery, Mississippi doesn’t have it (or need it) because of all the revenue they draw from their casino towns like Tunica or Biloxi, Nevada doesn’t have it for the same reasons, and Hawaii doesn’t have it probably because living there is like you’ve already won the lottery.
That leaves FOUR states that allow no forms of gambling: Wyoming, a state that may exist only a map since nobody I know has ever been there and come back to tell about it; Utah, “Mormon country,” where ordering a caffeinated soda is seen as risqué and where the Mormon church has engineered so many ponzi schemes on its members it’s like they’ve already got a lottery system; Alaska, a great state if you’re a fugitive from the law or a grizzly bear and already rich in enough natural resources that their state government has more than a little to operate on; and finally Alabama, a broke ass state that has no excuse to not have a lottery.
A decade ago, Don Seigelman, the last Democratic Governor Alabama has had, tried to pass an education lottery based off Georgia’s system where the lottery profits go to the public school system and a scholarship program for their high school students to get instate tuition. It was defeated at the voting booth during a special election where only church groups voted, Seigelman was later arrested for trying to get the lottery passed (seriously, check out this story on 60 Minutes or The New York Times or almost any credible news source that all agree Seigelman’s arrest was so partisan it was downright corrupt), and Alabama’s two Republican governors since then have put forth “alternative” ideas besides a lottery. The first one wanted a huge tax increase and the current gov. has been laying off public workers left and right when not squeezing their benefits for every last bit of juice.
This last Mega Millions drawing alone sold 400 million tickets only 48 hours before the drawing and raked in over 1.5 billion in sales. With only a third of that money going to the actual person who won, the next largest winner is the individual states selling the tickets, since they keep nearly a third of the proceeds of every ticket. Alabama saw none of it. No money to help the state’s pitiful budget. No revenue for failingly under-funded public schools. No desperately needed scholarship funds for a state where only 1 in 4 adults gets a college degree.
ENOUGH of this non-sense. Alabama is broke. Alabama is dangerously under-funded and under-educated, and since our hyper-Republican state congress would rather die than propose a corporate tax increase (Alabama has the lowest corporate tax rate in the country, and draws virtually no revenue from several out of state corporations using AL as a domestic tax haven), it’s time for a lottery.
Sure, the Bible Beaters will say their “morals” don’t believe in a lottery or any form of gambling, but that’s laughable. It doesn’t work as religious dogma—-a lottery is never mentioned in The Bible, which is also vague on the topic of gambling in general—-nor in social reality. Alabamians don’t NOT buy a ticket because Alabama doesn’t have a lottery, they merely drive to a gas station on the Georgia border to buy one.
Estimates say that nearly a third of Georgia’s lottery tickets are bought by Alabama residents who make an hour or two’s trip into Georgia every few days to buy a ticket. That’s interesting for two reasons: 1. It shoots a major hole in any religious qualms or even liberal qualms about the lottery being a “regressive” tax on the poor who are dumb enough to buy a lot of tickets…kind-of hard to argue that when they’re going to buy a ticket anyway, so why not help Alabama? 2. The only reason the issue hasn’t come up again is because the “moral” Republican politicians are receiving campaign contributions from Mississippi casinos and the Georgia Lottery Board to keep a lottery out of Alabama (and therefore keep local competition away from their games).
It’s time to stop the hypocrisy and put Alabama first. Who’s with me?