Is video gambling worth funding HOPE college scholarships?

The Georgia Lottery officials have been studying using video gambling to help make up shortfalls in the state’s HOPE college scholarship program.

From Sunday’s AJC story:

“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?

25 comments Add your comment

Nathan Smith

March 18th, 2012
7:02 pm

I think anything from gambling to legalized prostitution to bumfighting is worth providing educational opportunties for young Georgians. People can talk about their lofty anti-gambling principles all they like, these are nothing more than an intellectual abstraction. Our kids are real, and nothing is more important than giving our kids every chance they can get.


March 18th, 2012
7:05 pm

Nathan Smith:

So, we should have child prostitution sex slavery with some kids in order to pay for the college scholarships of others? Or maybe we can dedicate a portion of the funds from the child prostitute sex slaves earnings into college savings accounts? Your opposition to child prostitution sex slavery is a mere lofty principle intellectual abstraction, and stands in the way of tangibly helping the kids who would get to pay their tuition from the profits of their sex slavery. Right?


March 18th, 2012
7:17 pm

I will preface my comments by laying my ideological biases on the table: I am a fundamentalist Christian, though decidedly NOT a right wing conservative Republican or anything of the sort politically. With that out of the way:

“Should Georgia explore further video gambling or other forms of gambling to help shore up the HOPE scholarship program?” No.

“Does it hurt the certain segments of society to benefit other groups?” Yes, and the same is true of the current lottery. Well, no, not actually. I know that it most definitely hurts certain segments of society. But whether it benefits other groups: I am dubious as regarding that claim. These other groups are perfectly capable of paying for the college education of their own children, as they did before HOPE, and as they do in the many other states that do not have lottery-funded education. Now, you have a class of Georgians that have what is actually worse than a welfare-state mentality, as they are convinced that they are entitled to receive for free what they can and should provide for themselves. At least the welfare recipients actually are indigent and cannot afford food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their children. That they believe that they are “entitled” to state aid because they are poor is wrong and regrettable, but the high-income HOPE recipients have no basis for which to feel that they are “entitled” to the benefits that they receive.

“Would you be happy to welcome video gambling to have your high schooler’s college fund secured?” No. I will not take the money. My children will not receive a dime from HOPE. I consider it to be “dirty money.”

“Or do parents need to cut back even more/take on second jobs to pay for college?” You mean the way that parents always have before HOPE? Or the way that parents do in states that do not have “education” lotteries? Oh, perish the thought! You know, several states with BETTER higher education systems and who send A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF THEIR KIDS TO COLLEGE than Georgia do not have these lotteries. Why not emulate them instead of taking the easy way out?

Not just lotteries. I hate cigarette taxes for the same reason. If the cancer sticks are going to be legal, then at least stop collecting taxes on it and benefiting from self-destructive behavior! The same is true of beer and hard liquor taxes, or should be. Or here’s another idea: why not have smaller, limited government, a balanced budget, no national debt, no welfare state, no “world police” military and foreign policy etc. so we won’t need the revenue that comes from taxing self-destructive behavior in the first place? Wouldn’t that be better “for the children”?

Now would I feel differently if I had different religious beliefs? Probably. So sue me.


March 18th, 2012
7:41 pm

First, I want an audit of where the original education budget has been spent and where the lottery money has been spent.

Come clean on what the money has been spent on before you ask for my approval for more money.

Mr Pants

March 18th, 2012
7:46 pm

What Jeff said…

Michael H. Smith

March 18th, 2012
7:58 pm

More gambling to fund healthcare is a possiblity but more gambling and gambling money of any type to fund more HOPE scholarships – FORGET ABOUT IT!

hind tit

March 18th, 2012
10:16 pm

How many kids suffer at home now because of this state sponsored sickness and it is a sickness. If you don’t believe it just hang around a convenient store and watch people spend what little money they have in these hard times. They use to stop and buy bread and milk now it’s lottery tickets and beer. There is more money spent on the lottery than ever before. It’s unreal how much money is spent by the elderly on something they taught their kids was wrong and that was to gamble their hard earned money away. I hope mister Miller is proud of all the misery and poverty he created.

new money

March 18th, 2012
11:50 pm

bring in a bunch more gambling machines & casinos—which will generate millions more in cash to pay for the hope scholarship. Put casinos in every big city and video gambling games in bars, restaurants, convenience stores, etc. They will make big money!!


March 19th, 2012
7:04 am

Funding HOPE scholarships with video gambling. A gambler spending his/her last penny gambling, money that would have gone to feed their children, pay the mortgage or send their own children to college, because of their addiction, this money funds scholarships for deserving students.
Well one might say they were going to blow the money anyway, might as well put it to good use.
Actually I was going to say it was evil[gambling] however, now that I think about it, it is a good idea. Maybe the gambler’s children will get a HOPE scholarship and have the opportunity that Dad would not have given them.
I would like to see those big Vegas style casinos, river boat gambling, the whole 9 yards. The revenue could fund making Savannah Harbor a deep water port. Ofcourse, there is the short nosed sturgeon that is endangered and might become extinct and the ground water acquifers that furnish the drinking water for 1,000,000 people. Those are concerns that should be addresed.

mom of 3

March 19th, 2012
7:04 am

The number one thing is that as a parent you are not responsible to send you adult child to college. If your adult child wants to go to college and you are capable then you share your resources but they should be responsible for the bill. College is not a God-given right it is an opportunity.
I had 3 college students and they footed more than 1/2 the college bill for themselves. There is alot of down time in college where they were able to work a part-time job and 2 out of 3 graduated with honors. Stop asking for government help when you can accomplish it on your own.


March 19th, 2012
7:45 am

People who make bad decisions with money will always make bad decisions with money. If it is not the lottery that they are wasting money on, it will be somehting else. I don’t believe that kids are starving because their parents are playing the lottery.

That being said, it is true that the higher socioeconomic classes in GA are benefitting from HOPE while the lower are paying for it. It all comes back to good and bad decisions but it is definitely a fact. I don’t have to just look at the people playing the lottery in line at the convenience store, I see my husband’s employees buy hundreds of tickets a month. I know many, many working class people who should be putting money away and, instead they are purchasing lottery tickets. Their kids did not go to college and the ones who have kids coming up will not likely go to college. But do I think these people would be putting that money away if they could not buy lottery tix with it? No.
Conversely, I know of many attorneys, doctors etc.whose kids got a free ride to college because they were the kids who got good grades, were taught to make good decisions etc. Some might find this unfair but all had the same oportunity.
I think we can agree that Pre-K benefits all classes. I am happy that the kids in the lower classes have this oportunity. I’m not crazy about kids going to school all day at age 4 if they don’t have to but for a large segment of the population it is a good thing. I just see it as free Day Care. It also saves the state money because the lottery is paying for much of the daycare costs that might go to people who would qualify for day care assistance.

I am glad that GA has the lottery. The system seems to work a lot better than people thought it would in the early 90’s when it was first passed. Like Jeff said, if they can show us that the money is being spent wisely, I would not be opposed to Video Gambling but I might like to see more of the money go to (ugh, I can’t believe I’m saying this) Pre-K. Maybe even to fund child care for younger children. I think that would save the state more money in the long run and, the folks actually paying for the lottery would see a return on their money. I know it’s a weird way of looking at it , but it’s true.

However, if they are looking for ways to make more money because they are not spending the lottery money wisely and can no longer afford to fund HOPE and Pre-K the way it was intended, I think they need to take another look at the budget before jumping into video gambling.


March 19th, 2012
8:05 am

I am not in favor of gambling, but if this other kind is instituted, DO NOT put the Lottery Corp in charge of it! They are thieves!


March 19th, 2012
8:46 am

I’m in agreement with Jeff on this one. We really need to see where the money is being spent. I do not like the new rules of HOPE. This scholarship was set up to help working class parents, yet it won’t be doing that as much now. Regardless of what anyone may think, the ones benefitting from HOPE didn’t necessarily work harder, they just have the resources to be better prepared. For example, the courses that help students prepare for the SAT are extremely expensive. I can’t even afford it for my child. However, I have friends whose income bracket is well above mine that have had no problem paying for them. So, their kids may fare better than a kid who comes from a much poorer family that can’t afford prep tests. Of course, not everyone takes these courses, but they are beneficial. This has nothing to do with how hard they worked in school, as some have suggested.

“I’m not crazy about kids going to school all day at age 4 if they don’t have to but for a large segment of the population it is a good thing. I just see it as free Day Care.”

@homeschooler, the state pre-k program has a curriculum that it must follow, just like grades K-12. I’ve found that the students that attend the pre-k program come in much more prepared for kindergarten. There is a state pre-k program at my school and I can assure you it’s far from daycare. The same is true of the program my middle child attended. He learned quite a bit in pre-k. It was all age-appropriate and his teachers even pushed him beyond the pre-k curriculum by giving him extra work (he always finished first).

☺☻Have A Smile!

March 19th, 2012
9:04 am

So, we should have child prostitution sex slavery with some kids in order to pay for the college scholarships of others?

That was an absolutely asinine comparison and has no basis in reality nor was it the previous poster’s intent.

You get a -1 for failure to contribute.


March 19th, 2012
9:38 am

So what do you think? Should Georgia explore further video gambling or other forms of gambling to help shore up the HOPE scholarship program?

GA needs to take a hard look at how it goes about SPENDING the money it receives. It needs to look at our state attractive big businesses to GA to fund JOBs for residents. It needs to take a hard look at the education system itself and work to get above the 50th percentile mark. then it will not need HOPE or anything else because the working people of the state will fund it’s own children’s education. Nobody owes anyone (or their kid) a college degree.

Does it hurt the certain segments of society to benefit other groups? he Certain segement of society shoulder an unfair percentage of funding the government through taxation laws. Certain segements of scoiety benefit heavily from playing the current system. It is not up to the govrnment to police your “habits” outside of how they infringe on the right of another. Trust me, my rights have been pleanty infringed by the so called do gooder liberals who think they know how everyone should live and behave.

Would you be happy to welcome video gambling to have your high schooler’s college fund secured? The only thing that will secure my HS student’s college fund is a better economic and job prospectus so that I can save for it. People got to have moneyt to gamble. Fix the real problem and the others will go away!

Or do parents need to cut back even more/take on second jobs to pay for college? Kids need to know that college is not a right. College is something you work hard to get through. If they want the education bad enough they will get it. However going to college, on the government dole or privately funded and not having employment on the otherside makes it hard to want to do well in school.

Mark this: if the we have to endure 4 more years of the screwed up policies of the current federal administration, more jobs will leave this country.

Bottom line: Fix the econonmic issue through the right legislation. Get people employed, secure in their homes, and spending again… and other funding will fall back into place.


March 19th, 2012
9:49 am

If your child decides to go to college, they should attend a junior college and then transfer later to finish the remaining 2 years. They should also try to get a part time job doing something to help pay the costs. Like one poster said, it is an opportunity, not a right. Sometimes the child will have to postpone it. Try online school- it’s not cheap either but it might be less than attending a brick and morter school.


March 19th, 2012
10:29 am

Want to fix the funding problem for HOPE? Stop the Board of Regents trend of increasing tuition exponentionally when compared to the rate of inflation.


March 19th, 2012
10:57 am

re: online schools – In grad school, online classes were more expensive than in-class courses.

I agree with Jarvis. Honestly, I don’t know what extra the increase in tuition is getting the students. In some cases, like Spelman College where I went MANY years ago, there are upgraded facilities, so yes, I can understand some increase. But in general, what is the increase for? Is it funding additional research done by the students? Is it enhancing the education of the students in a noticeable way? New labs? New buildings? Or is it a random “let’s increase tuition because we can and we need the money for….well, don’t ask me what I’m using the money for”?


March 19th, 2012
12:15 pm

My first comment got swallowed, so I’ll try again . . .

No, I don’t like video gambling. It’s a coy way of having gambling, but “not really”, like big bad casinos. I’d avoid such an area like the plague.

As Yoda would say: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” In other words, if you’re going to go the gambling route — no matter WHO the beneficiary is, then DO so, don’t just dip your toe in the water with video gambling with some sort of hokey idea that it’s “less bad” than a casino, etc. Be honest about it and either do it or don’t. Personally, I don’t care for the culture that springs up around casinos — I don’t gamble (basically because I hate throwing money away), but I’ve been to Atlantic City, I’ve been to Vegas, and I’ve been to Branson, and I haven’t really enjoyed any of those places — you can practically smell the desperation in the air, and the vapid look on people’s faces as they sit at slot machines throwing their money away is like watching “Invasions of the Body Snatchers” in real life. Creepy. I do buy lottery tickets occasionally — probably not more than $5 a month, if that. Hey, my kid got and kept her HOPE, I’ll throw a few bucks in the kitty :-) But video gambling? Yuck.

My concern is that there doesn’t seem to be any incentive for the schools to keep costs under control. Since 2000, the price of tuition at the research institutions — UGA, Tech — has almost tripled — from $3100 to almost $9200 a semester, counting tuition and fees — , and I don’t think the kids are getting triple the benefits. It’s more than four times the rate of inflation, and more than twice the increase for health costs. For WHAT?! The same curriculum that was taught 10 years ago?! I think it’s because they can raise rates pretty much at will, and folks will swallow it, because after all, there’s HOPE to defray most of it.

So, my point is that we should be looking at schools to insure that the great gobs of money that they are currently receiving is being spent wisely to give the students the best bang for their buck instead of just throwing more money at the problem — throwing money at a problem almost never solves it.


March 19th, 2012
12:24 pm

@Misty: I’d agree with your suggestion about community college for the first two years for a lot of students, those who don’t have a clue what they want to do with their lives, or the 45% of the ones who “think” they want to be doctors, but haven’t taken any hard science classes in college, etc.) It doesn’t work for some kids, though, who may have specialized interests — my daughter’s major started off first semester freshman year, and is extremely structured throughout all four years, with classes that must be taken sequentially. For her to have gone to a CC would have added almost two years to her getting her degree.


March 19th, 2012
1:30 pm

@DB – when I went to GT in 1994, in-state tuition per quarter wasn’t even $800. I know that doesn’t translate to the new semester system but I’m sure $800/quarter is a heck of a lot less than $9000/semester. These are PUBLIC schools that are requiring almost private school tuitions. What is the benefit of going to state schools when you are paying such high tuition? HOPE? Lots of friends stayed in state because tuition was less than out-of-state fees. If in-state is just as high as out-of-state and private school tuition, how do we expect to keep our brightest students?


March 19th, 2012
2:44 pm

today’s ajc:
Georgians spend $50 billion a year in tickets for state-run games, which have the worst odds of any form of legal gambling, writes Bloomberg.

The article throws salt on the wounds by saying Georgia’s per capita income is about 10 percent below the U.S. average, and that lower-income residents tend to buy a disproportionate amount of tickets.

And we’re not slowing down: The Georgia Lottery said last week that Georgians broke a record in desperation in February, buying $101.2 million in tickets in one week. That broke a 2007 record by more than $5 million

I know pleanty of folks who play b/c the job market is still unstable and their 401k bit it. My mother jokes she will have to work 6 months past her death….and she does not live beyond her means.

Make it worthwhile to business here and things will fix themselves.


March 19th, 2012
3:55 pm

@Denise: No kidding. My son wanted to attend a highly-ranked state university out-of-state (top 15 nationally) and the out-of-state tuition would have been almost $38,000 a year. To our great delight, they offered him an academic grant that took care of about 90% of the costs — it ended up being cheaper for him to go to that school than it would have been for him to go to UGA. Private colleges such as Furman and Emory are even more astronomical: Emory’s estimated costs for a year, including all expenses, is $55,000 a year!


March 19th, 2012
5:02 pm

Spelman has to be in the 30s or 40s right now, DB. My friends and I joke that we want some of our tuition back because we didn’t have the fancy science building they have now (we had to share beakers and test tubes!) and we only paid in the 20s. Well, I didn’t pay jack; NASA paid for me to go to school.

Are kids only counting on HOPE to go to school or are they also pursuing any and every scholarship they MIGHT qualify for? Shoot, a guy who went to Morehouse got a scholarship for Hispanic students (he’s Black) because his name is Enrique. They didn’t ask for a picture… LOL! Fraternities and Sororities and churches give out scholarships. May not be big but they might buy a book or 2. I spent a lot of time applying for scholarships my junior and senior years.

I say all that to say that GA students cannot just rely on HOPE and any other gambling money because one day somebody is going to get in power and think it’s of the devil and shut it all down. (I’m Christian and I don’t think that.) Our students need to exercise EVERY option available to them. Yes, it is an opportunity but they have to know what opportunities are available for them.


March 19th, 2012
5:14 pm


Yes, there are exceptions. I think for a lot of kids who don’t know what they want to do or who might “think” they want something and end up changing their minds, CC is a good choice. I’m about to graduate in 1 year and I could have saved so much money by doing a CC first and then transferring.