Where would state lottery money wind up? - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Where would state lottery money wind up?

(Source: Raycom News Network) (Source: Raycom News Network)
(WAFF) -

A $422 million dollar Powerball jackpot could go to a lucky winner.          

However, Alabama could get its hands on a share of revenue, with Governor Bentley announcing today his plans for special legislative session to discuss bringing the lottery to Alabama.
It would be to fund millions of dollars in shortfalls in the state budget, including medicaid. Some say this will only provide a short-term fix to the state's financial woes.

"The state of Alabama has not and cannot at this time paid for the most basic services we provide to our people," said Governor Bentley. "The time has come for us to find a permanent solution."

Political analyst Dr. Waymon Burke says doctors are the ones taking a hit because of the lack in medicaid funding.

"We've already had a number of hospitals close because of a shortage of medicaid funds," says Burke.  "The rapid expansion of medicaid has exacerbated those problems."

State representative Mike Ball doesn't think this is a permanent solution.

"Long-term, I don't think they meet the revenue projections," says Ball. "A lot of times when states pass a lottery, it's like when a new restaurant comes to town, everyone goes and eats there, then the novelty wears off."

Patrick Pierce is a professor at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana and is the co-author of Gambling Politics: State Government and the Business of Betting. 

Pierce has studied state gambling laws extensively. He says funding medicaid through lottery revenue is a risky strategy.

"They identify some program run by the state that citizens regard as necessary, then put in place the appropriate tax to fund it," says Pierce. "Lotteries are not an appropriate tax because it's voluntary."

Pierce says adding a new revenue stream to fund one program, can easily dissolve over time.

"Honestly, it's impossible to tell exactly where it goes. It's not as though dollars come in, and they have a certain designation on them and they only go there. They come in, and then you're using dollars from different revenue streams to fund different purposes."

It's still very early in the process of legalizing a state Lottery, but Representative Mike Ball believes the key to passing the matter
on the public for a vote will be with support from state Republicans.

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