Should Alabama Have a Lottery?

It’s been 15 years since the last time the people of Alabama voted on whether to create a state lottery but a proposal to launch a new game to fund education has received the backing of the Alabama House of Representative’s top Democrat.

The concept was rejected in 1999 but now Rep. Craig Ford has addressed the subject again, citing the substantial funding that education has received from successful lotteries in neighboring states like Tennessee and Georgia.

Ford predicts that Alabama’s school system could benefit by $250 million a year from a state lottery, according to figures in a report provided by the Legislative Fiscal Office.  Even this amount, he suggests, may be a conservative estimate.

Of the $68.8 billion worth of national lottery sales in 2012, Ford claims that individual states managed to keep a total of $19.4 billion and that’s before local lotteries and scratch-offs are taken into account. Ford also speculates that a lottery would not increase the financial burden on Alabamians as there would be no need to implement additional taxes. Ford doesn’t see a new draw increasing household expenditure, claiming that the people of the state are “already spending that money on the lottery. We are just playing it in different states”.

Ford’s comments have sparked a huge reaction online and opinions are split on the benefits of a state lottery with some suggesting the increased funding for education could, in turn, reduce poverty and crime. Others claim that it would become a tax on the poor and uneducated.

Any public vote would only take place if the Republican controlled House and Senate approved a constitutional amendment.

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