NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Southern States Consider Lotteries

January 14, 1999

Until recently, Southern states were among the last holdouts in establishing government lotteries. But the need to raise money to improve public schools is pushing at least four of them to reconsider their stand.

  • Six of the 13 states that do not have lotteries are in the South.
  • But political observers say South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee could all adopt them in the next few years.
  • Other states without lotteries are Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
  • A number of states would first have to amend their constitutions to make lotteries legal, meaning legislatures would first have to pass measures -- in some cases by two-thirds majorities -- to schedule a public referendum.

Politicians in nonlottery states which share a border with lottery states have watched helplessly as their residents flock across the border to spend millions which go to the lottery states' schools.

Georgia's state lottery, for example, has reportedly paid for college scholarships for 319,000 students and for pre- kindergarten classes for 246,000 4-year-olds.

Source: Kevin Sack, "Dixie Sees a Jackpot in the Lottery," New York Times, January 14, 1999.


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