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Lotteries Are Gambling, Bringing Pain In More Subtle Ways!!

Published Tuesday, April 4, 2000, in The State:

"Gambling study paints bleak picture of lottery"

Staff Writer

A South Carolina lottery, if approved, will sap money from the poor and minorities, create a culture of impulsive gamblers and stifle the state's economic growth, says a study released Monday by gambling foes.

The study, "Going for Broke: The Economic and Social Impact of a South Carolina Lottery," was released by the S.C. Policy Council, a conservative think tank, and represents the latest attack on Gov. Jim Hodges' lottery-for-education proposal which was a central theme in his 1998 campaign.

In February, the group sent university trustees a letter critical of a proposed lottery to fund education.

"We believe, the South Carolina Policy Council believes, that bringing an education lottery in any shape, form or fashion to this state, is not a good idea because of the incredible toll it will exact not only economically, not only socially, but as I've said before, morally on this state," said John R. Hill, an author of the study and a policy analyst with the Alabama Policy Institute.

Critics of Hodges' plan say Georgia's lottery, which supporters in South Carolina want to emulate, is a regressive tax that takes money from the poor and minority communities to pay for scholarships for middle- and upper-class families. Hill said the number of African-American students attending Georgia's public colleges and universities has dropped 3 percent since the lottery was implemented.

Ed McMullen, president of the S.C. Policy Council, said two-thirds of the college freshmen receiving a scholarship in Georgia are unable to carry the award over to their sophomore year. McMullen said the lottery will foster addiction and serve as a gateway to other forms of gambling including video gaming.

"The Policy Council is ignoring how well the lottery works in Georgia," Hodges' press secretary, Nina Brook, said.

"That's what the research truly shows," Brook said. "In Georgia, more than 400,000 students have received scholarships from the lottery. The Georgia lottery has provided more than $1 billion to Georgia schools since it came into place. The fact is in Georgia, the lottery has expanded educational opportunity and educational access and it's helped improve the quality of education available in Georgia."

Hill said a closer look at the Georgia lottery will tell a "different story" than one offered by lottery supporters. A review of the 10 poorest Georgia counties showed they received 7 cents for every dollar invested in the lottery.

"We're seeing a massive transfer of wealth from the poorest counties in Georgia to the wealthiest," Hill said. "What we have in Georgia and what we're afraid might happen in South Carolina is that you'll have the poor buying lottery tickets to fund the higher education of the middle and upper class."

Hodges expects a lottery, once it matures, to generate $150 million a year for education.

Most of that money, or $105 million, would fund a scholarship program that offers free tuition for students at technical colleges or two-year institutions and a $2,000 scholarship for students with a B average who attend a state university. In addition, Hodges wants to earmark $30 million for classroom technology.

South Carolina voters will decide in November whether to amend the state Constitution to allow a government-run lottery.

However, critics challenged the governor to suggest legislation on how the lottery, if approved, will function. Separate plans are resting in the House and Senate committees.

"It's the Jim Hodges' lottery and yet Governor Hodges hasn't done anything with his lottery in terms of a plan," said Larry Huff, head of the Legacy Alliance, which opposed video poker. "Everyone is kind of sitting back and waiting to see what the governor is going to do. It seems he's trying to distance himself from specifics for fear that those specifics may not sell well."

Brook said the governor has outlined his plans for the lottery and accused critics of trying to confuse voters.

"The arguments that were heard again today are the typical arguments that lottery opponents try to throw up," Brook said. "But, they're just not valid. We believe the majority of people in South Carolina do support efforts to improve educational opportunity and educational access including the lottery."

Hodges, McMullen said, is trying to gain political capital from the lottery, which the governor opposed as a member of the General Assembly.

"It's amazing to me to see the kind of quotes that are in here that Governor Hodges made throughout his career for over 12 years as a public servant," McMullen said. "And, suddenly, on the way to the Governor's Mansion, things have changed and it's looking like a bright, rosy future for South Carolina if we only get a lottery."

[ Kenneth A. Harris covers state government and the legislature. Contact him at (803) 771-8509 or by e-mail at]

Associated with this article is a box labeled "Lotteries in decline"
"Examples cited by the South Carolina Policy Council Education Foundation as evidence lotteries are losing popularity in some states:

  • TEXAS: lottery sales dropped 17% from 1997 to 1998.
  • NEW YORK: Ticket sales for 1999 declined for a second consecutive year
  • etc.

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(posted: April 2000)