The Georgia Lottery officials have been studying using video gambling to help make up shortfalls in the state’s HOPE college scholarship program.
“Georgia Lottery officials in recent months have quietly explored how to roll out video gambling in the state if the idea ever gains political backing, documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show.”
“Their interest comes as projected revenue shortfalls force cutbacks in the lottery-funded HOPE college scholarship program — and as developers of gambling venues pitch their operations as sources of fresh funding. One recent proposal calls for a sprawling entertainment-video gambling complex in Gwinnett County.”
“The lottery last year commissioned a study showing that video lottery terminals at three venues could generate nearly $1 billion annually. An AJC open records request this month revealed that the lottery also hired a firm to report on details of introducing video gambling to Georgians.”
“The report by Spectrum Gaming Group includes a possible timetable for soliciting bids from operators and outlines how long it might take to develop a complex in metro Atlanta. It also detailed necessary steps like developing licensing and considering whether to set up services for problem gamblers.”
“Lottery Chairman Jimmy Braswell said the studies were intended only to educate lottery officials and Gov. Nathan Deal. Braswell said the lottery board has no intention of trying to approve video gambling itself, although it has the authority to do so according to a former state attorney general’s informal opinion.”
“Braswell said the board sees video gambling as a public policy issue to be decided by elected leaders.”
“Without a broad base of support, including the support of the governor’s office, the lottery commission isn’t going to step up and do something unilaterally,” Braswell said.
“The governor appoints the seven-member lottery board. A spokeswoman for Deal said the governor’s office has received the reports on video gambling, but added that the governor “is opposed to the expansion of gambling in Georgia.”
“Social conservative organizations have long opposed gambling in Georgia. Jerry Luquire, president of the Georgia Christian Coalition, said he considers gambling a “tax on the poor” that takes money out of the economy.
“There’s no right way to do a wrong thing and in our opinion gambling is wrong,” Luquire said. “We’re standing firm with our governor. We believe he is who he says he is, and he will deflect and reject any expansion of gambling.”
“The original public referendum allowing the state lottery in 1992 passed by a narrow 52-48 percent margin. But today Georgia is one of only a handful of states without other forms of gambling.”
With college tuition soaring and families often unable to make much headway in their savings, much less their college savings, due to the bad economy and rising prices on food/gas, I think parents would be open to video gambling in the state.
I remember when HOPE was passed originally and there was so much fear about bringing “gambling” into Georgia and the funds not actually being used for education.
While I am not privy, to all details of the programs’ successes and failures, I think overall the program has been great for our kids and our state. I have always been proud to tell people in other states that Georgia had a fund for pre-K and college scholarships for kids that are willing to work hard. (They have been talking in our school district in Arizona about cutting kindergarten to half day! They can’t even afford kindergarten here. Good Lord people! Our district has finally decided to keep it full day I think out of sheer embarrassment to not have it!)
And I do think it seems to the observer that the state wrote the law tightly enough that the lottery money has gone where it was supposed to go.
Rose starts college in six years and while we have had a college fund for her since she was a baby, we are worried about paying for college – and the other two kids will quickly follow in her path. (More panic!)
I’m not so sure that a tightly regulated and tightly policed video gambling site would be a bad thing for Georgia.
So what do you think? Should Georgia explore further video gambling or other forms of gambling to help shore up the HOPE scholarship program? Does it hurt the certain segments of society to benefit other groups? Would you be happy to welcome video gambling to have your high schooler’s college fund secured? Or do parents need to cut back even more/take on second jobs to pay for college?