Video lottery terminals: A moral or money question for Georgia?

The lottery cannot keep up with the costs of HOPE and pre-k. Should we expand the opportunities to gamble to raise more momey? (AJC file)

The lottery cannot keep up with the costs of HOPE and pre-k. Should we expand the opportunities to gamble to raise more momey? (AJC file)

Georgia already has made peace with funding our children’s education through legalized gambling.

So, the question isn’t whether we can live with the moral compromises that come with such a funding choice, but how far we want to push it.

And now, a coalition of former lottery officials and business interests wants to push it to video lottery gambling.

Are you on board?

According to the AJC:

Dave Garrett, an Atlanta real estate developer and coalition member who was the lottery first board chairman, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that video gambling revenue would make up for the $300 million shortfall for lottery-funded HOPE scholarships and pre-k. The HOPE 20/20 Coalition also includes Cadillac Jack, a Duluth-based video gambling machine company. Garrett said the coalition will expand to include other businesses and individuals interested in protecting lottery programs.

But, the coalition’s effort faces a number of difficulties: a lottery board that has seen similar proposals before and decided against moving forward; conservative Christian opposition; and a governor who opposes any expansion of gambling.

For Garrett, who says he has no personal financial interest in adopting a video lottery, the struggles of HOPE and pre-k show the need for action.

“I see this just as a natural maturation of this lottery,” said Garrett, who led the campaign to create a lottery to fund educational programs in the 1990s and served a second term on the lottery board under former Gov. Sonny Perdue. “It’s going to have to do some additional things in order to rebuild confidence in those programs, re-fund them and get the reserves back up and build a good platform for it to go forward.”

Deal doesn’t view video lottery gambling as a solution for a healthier HOPE and pre-k. “No such proposal has come to our office, but the governor has strongly opposed efforts to expand gambling in Georgia,” Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, said

But Garrett is concerned the cuts will continue if nothing changes. “What happens as the costs continue to go up and and [there are] more and more qualified 4-year-olds and qualified students for HOPE?” he said.

The coalition’s answer is video lottery terminals that supporters describe as the equivalent of an electronic scratch-off ticket. They are different from video poker machines, which are already illegal in Georgia.

“These aren’t revolutionary,” Garrett, whose father was a former CEO of Delta, said. “The basis of the VLT games are not fundamentally different. It’s all a mathematical algorithm. It’s all a function of chance.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

41 comments Add your comment


May 26th, 2011
10:49 am

You can’t object when you are already so dependent on the lottery and its replacement of state money for education. However, the HOPE programs should first get the FULL 35% lottery funds, including payback for the 12 or so? years it has not before we add more ways to take money for state-held monopolies.


May 26th, 2011
11:01 am

Here is a novel idea. Make proper use of the current funds, stop wasting wasting wasting, stop with the entitlements for the WILL NOTS and there will be plenty of money.

Inman Park

May 26th, 2011
11:05 am

Just have never understood why people cast gambling as a “moral” issue. Perhaps gambling hurts those who engage in it the most, but that doesn’t raise any moral questions. I think perfectly moral people can gamble without sacrificing their morality, don’t you?


May 26th, 2011
11:10 am

I can see it now–no video poker on Sunday.


May 26th, 2011
11:15 am

Yet another area where the super-fundy Christian Coalition wants to rule Georgians. HOPE is already based on gambling, so why would we turn down the funds that could be raised? Like the regular lottery, this would be a voluntary tax. Why is that a moral question? It isn’t, unless we want to continue to affirm that we are a nanny state.

@Dr NO – Absolutely.


May 26th, 2011
11:34 am

As a devout Christian, I see absolutely no moral issue on any level with gambling, and even if there were moral objections from a religious standpoint there are more people than just Christians or followers of other religions living in this country, therefore no religious doctrine should be the basis for any sort of law. The sooner my ignorant, megaphone toting brothers and sisters in Christ realize that forcing their religion on other people in such a way is actually going against their very doctrine, the sooner America can see some real progress.

And I will buy alcohol whenever I damn well please. That’s another law that needs to get knocked around a bit.

Robert.......Linda Stof;;wsb knows me:)

May 26th, 2011
11:39 am

Maybe if the CEO and the rest of the Staff stop getting Very High Bonus, the money would be there! They are already getting paid very very very high! Check it out!! As well as the Millions dumped in TV Comercials and Radio! I voyted for it because I knew the money was going to Hope and PreK……Wrong!! Something is wrong and maybe WSB should do a full investigation on the facts about how much these employees are getting paid and if they really did go to college! Some employees, high grad’s making over 100,000 a year! For real?? If i could vote again I would say no until a change was made and soon!!


May 26th, 2011
11:42 am

@Pete you are truly a good person who nows what his moral compass represents, these are the kinds of Christian the world needs more of, not those I’m right your’re wrong hypocrites.

Robert.......Linda Stof;;wsb knows me:)

May 26th, 2011
11:44 am

In 2010, Georgia Lottery Corporation Chief Executive Officer Margaret DeFrancisco took a $67,500 pay raise to bring her base salary to $353,500, according to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts. The year before, in addition to her $286,000 salary, she received a $204,034 bonus, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
I bet for 2011 it will be doubled!! This must be controled by the STATE GOVERNMENT.


May 26th, 2011
11:45 am

Aren’t most laws based on moral questions?

The messy part of this is rarely does the state want the revenue, it is who gives, who gets, & who has the power to choose the winners & losers. We seem to love vice taxation as long as we can look down on those that partake of the vice. (e.g. Don’t smoke near anyone, but we tax cigarettes significantly & take the cigarette company settlement funds without truly applying that money to attack the core of healthcare expenses that are related to smoking.–No I don’t smoke.)

Education is important, but the more we replace tax funding with vice funding, the harder it is to make choices that reflect that we should pay something to get something. HOPE grows as a something for nothing entitlement as the state puts less of our money into education.

I would be for more gambling funds going toward HOPE if the payouts were educationally based. You win tuition money or funds that can only be used at a school. I think it would change the incentive dynamic and improve the alignment of those who get with those who give. (You don’t put money into HOPE funding, your chances of getting something out of HOPE decrease.)


May 26th, 2011
12:00 pm

Where is the morality in the government banning an activity between consenting adults??? Why is that question never asked? It is just assumed that government should have the authority to ban whatever it wants and then engage in blatant theft on behalf of its most favored constituency – the parents and children who benefit parasitically off the government school system – if and when the activity is once again legalized??

The Lottery is just a wealth transfer mechanism that the state gets its cut of. The sooner everyone figures that out and stops supporting government theft, the better off our state and nation will be.

We need to legalize freedom, not just create another mechanism for “legalized” government theft.

guess who

May 26th, 2011
12:09 pm

I remember when the georgia lottery was a moral issue when it was first being discussed years ago. Why would adding gambling machines be any different from selling tickets? Perhaps to increase HOPE funds these huge bonuses that are paid out should stop! It just seems wrong to get such a huge bonus for doing your job. That is what you get a paycheck for.


May 26th, 2011
12:15 pm

“…but the governor has strongly opposed efforts to expand gambling in Georgia,” Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, said”

That’s just great. I had hoped that we were done with this holy roller mentality once Perdue left. In view of Gov. Deal’s shady background it’s tough to believe he’s any kind of defender of morality.


May 26th, 2011
12:30 pm

How many of Nathan’s children or grands got the HOPE?


May 26th, 2011
12:46 pm

Now, catlady, you should be more sensitive. No way any product of that gene pool could make the grades or scores for HOPE.


May 26th, 2011
1:12 pm

“How many of Nathan’s children or grands got the HOPE?”

Probably the ones that qualified.

Dr. Craig Spinks/Augusta

May 26th, 2011
1:12 pm

When will The Georgia Lottery be scrutinized through a performance audit completed by a competent, disinterested, out-of-state agency? When will the results of such an audit be released directly to the public through the internet as well as through popular print and electronic media?

V for Vendetta

May 26th, 2011
1:43 pm


I applaud your brand of Christianity. Bravo! As others have stated, this is no moral issue. It’s yet another issue (or example) rooted in the Nanny state in which we live. When we will finally realize this? We consider it a conservative victory that the death tax still stands at 35% rather than 50%? WHAT!? I’ll never understand this country as long as I live. We can argue about whether or not I should be allowed to gamble or buy alcohol, yet no one seems to mind that the government steals 35% of your wealth after you croak. Priorities, people. Priorities.

In other news, a 5-month-old was left in a car and died. Not to make light of a tragic situation, but I’m sure if the pathetic human who calls herself the child’s parent decides to have any more children, we’ll be expected to teach them, and the government will expect them to succeed at the same level as children whose parents don’t, you know, leave babies in cars.

bible belt can kiss my arse

May 26th, 2011
1:50 pm

as soon as the word moral gets into the discussion, our government is probably doing the wrong thing. Read this next part very carefully and understand what it means. YOU CANT LEGISLATE MORALITY.

What is moral to some is not for others, so it should be up to the individual to choose, no law should be made based on some politician’s definition of morality. This is probably the single biggest cause for lost freedoms in this country.

Invest in Yourself

May 26th, 2011
2:35 pm

@V for Vendetta…I know this is off topic but shame on you for calling the parents pathetic without knowing the facts. As a parent, I know it is very easy to forget a silent baby in a car if you are mentally distracted. Without knowing the circumstances my heart goes out to them as I give him/her the benefit of the doubt! If you have never done it yourself…good for you but I am sure others will admit this can easily happen.

bob leblah

May 26th, 2011
2:48 pm

@Invest in Yourself – for FIVE hours.. are you kidding me. That is not a single mistake. Any time I take my kids anywhere, they’re the first thing I think about. I constantly ensure they are with me. When I leave they’re the first thing I think about. If it was an accident that is truly sad.. but it is terribly negligent.


May 26th, 2011
3:13 pm

The problem with lottos and gambling is the people who can least afford to lose their money are usually the ones tossing good money after bad in hopes of the big payoff.

Lottos and gambling is a big ripoff and one would do well to stay away.

Archie@arkham asylum

May 26th, 2011
3:34 pm

The HOPE Teacher Scholarship helped me finish my last two semesters of graduate school. At the time, I was attending church among the conservative evangelical crowd. Of course, they questioned the morality of my accepting scholarship funds from the Georgia Lottery ( Which in their view, was gambling, gasp!).Fortunately, my 9 year experience of teaching in South Georgia had provided me with a ready answer. I calmly explained to them that as I saw it, I was merely getting back some of the money that had been taken out of my paycheck the past 2-3 tears so that people could buy lottery tickets. HOPE didn’t cover everything. I had to pay for my living expenses myself and I had to work three years afterward in an approved school setting to cancel the loan the scholarship would have become had I not opted to “work it off.” I still think it was a great deal and in the years that followed, that Masters degree paid for itself many times over.

Dr. John Trotter

May 26th, 2011
3:48 pm

What’s wrong with casinos? Think about all of the Georgians who trot down to Biloxi and Philadelphia for the weekend. Gambling, hotels, restaurants. Wow. Lots of money. That money could be spent right here in Georgia and could support education. Those who may have moral compunctions about any type of gambling aren’t turning down HOPE Scholarship monies, are they? This money is certainly “tainted,” if you hold the position that all forms of gambling (horse racing, etc.) is morally wrong. Heck, the same ethical compunctions would have to be applied to the Stock Market, right? “Investing” money in companies traded over the Market certainly looks like a “gamble” to me. Just my thoughts. What say ye?

Dr. John Trotter

May 26th, 2011
3:58 pm

@ Dr NO: I agree that those least likely to be able to afford to play the Lottery are the ones playing in disproportionate numbers. In a sense, the poor are financing the college education of the more affluent. So, let’s spread the gambling out to the more affluent…from out of state…to those who can afford to come and stay in Georgia hotels, eat in Georgia restaurants, and spend more at higher stakes games. Makes sense to me. I remember when Zell Miller was pushing the Lottery in the 1990 campaign for governor. Many shrieked that with the Lottery, Georgia would go to the dogs (no pun intended). Many a kid who could not afford to attend college went to college on the HOPE. James Carville (who was running Zell’s campaign) and Zell realized that there were a lot of Southern Baptists in Georgia who would play the Lottery…just like they will drink Jack Daniel whiskey. Jack Gamble Baptists, I suppose. Ha!

A Conservative Voice

May 26th, 2011
5:41 pm

Well, you know, all those “people” driving around town and walking down the streets talking on their IPads or whatever you call the damn things, would make the city safer if they used them for playing the video lottery…..let’s look on the bright side, folks :) As far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t care less except for the fact that the folks on welfare and getting food stamps will then start using the money to play the lottery on those damn!!!!! things which they shouldn’t have to begin with, thereby costing me more money because the state will give them more because “they’ll starve if we don’t”. This madness with entitlements has to stop……..NONONONONONONO, it’ll cost us more than we’ll ever gain.


May 26th, 2011
5:53 pm

We need to be doing everything in our power to bring people to Georgia and help them leave their hard earned money here. I am 100% in favor of casino gambling because it will bring tourists to Georgia. As a side note, this is also a fear I have with the likely departure of the Thrashers – hockey fans come from around the country and Canada to watch these games (as well as spend money downtown prior to and after games). We can’t afford to lose any opportunity to bring in other money from whatever source to fund every educational opportunity for young Georgians.


May 26th, 2011
6:08 pm

There’s a very big moral issue. The state has no business promoting gambling. Many of those who can least afford it are spending money on lotto tickets instead of taking care of their family.

It would be like the state getting a monopoly on liquor, tobacco or drug sales and promoting it to people so they would voluntarily tax and hook themselves. Now the state is hooked on the lotto money so its hopeless to get them off. But we shouldn’t be expanding it through a video lottery.


May 26th, 2011
6:10 pm

On top of all that, the lotto has the worst payout of any form of gambling. Not sure exactly what Georgia’s take is, but the norm is about 1/3. At horse tracks its about 1/6. In some casino games its only around 2%. The Lotto’s a really lousy bet.


May 26th, 2011
6:48 pm

First off, I want an accounting of the lottery money. Second, if younhavento push a person out of a bar a 4am on a Sunday morning, they’re not going to church. You might as well get the revenue from them than the people driving 400 trying to earn a living.

V for Vendetta

May 27th, 2011
8:06 am

Invest in Yourself,

Perhaps you should heed the advice of your name. As a parent, the idea of leaving either of my children in a car for FIVE HOURS is unfathomable. You are an idiot. People like that deserve no excuses or sympathy. They deserve to rot. I can’t even believe you’d stick up for someone who let their own child die.


What idiots choose to spend their money on is no concern of mine. It’s the only form of socialism I’ll support: Funding social programs through ignorance doesn’t really bother me. Perhaps we should do the same with Welfare. Then they’ll actually be paying for themselves!


May 27th, 2011
8:36 am

I agree that current funds need to be used wisely and all waste needs to be stopped.

I also think that Georgia should legalize all forms of gambling – with hopes to reduce State income taxes. Imagine if we had 0% personal income tax! And, if we had 0% tax on purchases (to include grocery tax)!

I say, bring in the gambling! If people want to throw their money away, then who are we to stop them? It is not a “moral” issue or a “religous” issue at all.

I would LOVE to see a gambling casino mile like Atlantic City spring up around Lake Lanier or even around the Georgia coast some where.


May 27th, 2011
8:37 am

Understand that casino gambling would draw in other people’s money from other States. Let’s allow them to donate to the Georgia funds!


May 27th, 2011
9:47 am

Catlady & Dr. Craig Spinks already said it.


May 27th, 2011
10:20 am

What is immoral is forcing so many children in Georgia into substandard education with limited resources for core classes, no art, no music, no foreign languages. Atlanta is already known as a convention town where the Businessman can indulge in all manner of “immoral” activities, but leaves behind plenty of cash to keep the city’s wheels turning. Heck, yeah, add video gambling and it’ll be like opening a money faucet. I would like to see stats that indicate that low income people, other than retirees, spend money on video gambling. Someone should call Chris Cornwell at UGA and ask him – he’s the expert on the state lottery.


May 27th, 2011
10:41 am

Georgia is pushing people to make stupid decisions and encouraging damaging addictions. And all of you are paying for it. Welfare, crime, public hospitals, problems in the schools. There’s enough of that without the state trying to make it worse.

Casinos make it easy to lose lots of money fast. Lotto takes a little longer. Sure there would be outside money-including organized crime money. Atlantic City, Vegas, New Orleans are all mob strongholds. Don’t know about Tunica.

I don’t have any problem with gambling. I’ve been to horse tracks, dog tracks, Jai Alai. I have a real problem with the government promoting it. I have a problem with the government making damaging activities too easy. That’s immoral and irresponsible.

As for limited resources, its hard to tell with all the immoral and irresponsible school boards who steal and waste money-Gwinnet, Dekalb, Clayton, Atlanta…. If you think the theft is bad now, wait until you invite organized crime into the state.


May 27th, 2011
11:03 am

@amazed – Organized crime is a seperate issue from gambling. It really is. Gambling is possible without organized crime. Las Vegas has rid itself of organized crime decades ago.

For you to promote fear of casinos based on organized crime is wrong.

No one wants Georgia to PROMOTE gambling. The proposal is to LEGALIZE it in order to better fund education. The funds from gambling would help the Georgia coffers in a big way.

In fact, I would hope that Georgia not only could fully fund education from this, but also reduce or even get rid of State income taxes. People from out-of-state would be drawn here to gamble and donate their money to Georgia – sweet!

What's best for kids?

May 27th, 2011
11:22 am

Even if it does “go to education”, how much money of that will get into the classrooms? This was my same question with RTTT funds. I predicted none, and that was the answer. Any time any money “goes to education” it goes to administrative staff, accountability people, and rarely does any money get into the classrooms for bookks, more teachers, and better equipment.
So we have gambling, lotto, etc. Big deal. The students never see any of the proceeds.


May 27th, 2011
11:43 am

@What’s best for kids?

I think you are right about that. But corrupt politicans and crooked administration is a separate issue (that certainly needs to be addressed).


May 27th, 2011
9:54 pm

Georgia spends thousands every year advertising the lotto to increase its sales. That’s promoting gambling. They are trying to do this video lottery to increase gambling. Everyone supporting this is promoting gambling. To say otherwise is simply passing the buck.

As for organized crime, its still an issue everywhere there are casinos, whether it be Atlantic City, Las Vegas or an Indian reservation. There’s lots of cash and so its a target whether its the casino itself or the equipment. Look up news on organized crime and casinos and the most recent item is a casino in Pennsylvania and suspected drug trafficking tied to the casino owner. To say organized crime is not an issue is wrong.

bootney farnsworth

May 28th, 2011
11:55 am

if you have a moral issue with gambling – don’t.
its just that stinking simple.