That’s said despite what some view as this newspaper’s notoriously sinful track record on the topic of gaming. It supported creation of the lottery when such was far from popular (it barely passed in a November, 1992, referendum by 1,146,340 for to 1,050,674 against). For many years before anyone dared raise the topic in official circles, it has called for Georgia permitting both racetracks with pari-mutuel betting and the sort of casino/resort operations that pull hordes of Georgians, and their dollars, to other states.
Such support, past and present, has nothing to do with our “feeling lucky” or hoping to “get rich quick.” It has everything to do with capturing wagering dollars that are/were being spent anyway and converting them to increased educational opportunities for state youngsters (HOPE, pre-K), capturing increased state/local tax revenues now benefitting only neighbors and, in the case of casinos/tracks especially, creating many thousands of new jobs.
Frankly, if Georgia could figure out how to skim off some of the underground football wagering that will shortly resume and use it to keep property/sales/income taxes in check that would be worthy of support as well. Georgia can’t, of course, even if it wanted to do so. There’s a federal law against online wagering now applying only to sports. For such as poker, etc., it was recently abandoned.
NOR IS OUR viewpoint ignoring there can be/are bad effects for some individuals and their families from gambling. It is only saying the potential advantages for the whole of the community seem to far outweigh the problems caused — many of which will exist whether something is legal or illegal anyway.
It’s also not meant to oppose the instant (and just about only) opposition to this online lottery business stuff voiced by the Georgia Family Council, a Christian conservative group. It is absolutely correct in pointing out the lottery as now operated by the state is “inherently exploitative” with most players being minorities/low-income folks and most reaping the educational payoffs being white, middle/upper class.
What the Family Council misses is that this is plainly an attempt to expand gambling participation to those now not playing or not as faithfully as those who stand in convenience-store lines.
Think about it: Who has routine access to the computers and internet connections allowing buying lottery tickets from home or a wi-fi location? It is not many or even most of the current players who, in a down economy, increased lottery sales by $236 million over the previous year with it reaching $3.8 billion in sales between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.
Which caused $901 million of the proceeds (up $55 million) to be put in the HOPE kitty even as the legislature chopped the college awards for pretty-near all who qualified while yet again cutting into state budget share for education, again forcing colleges to raise tuitions, school boards to cut services or raise local property taxes.
FRANKLY, based on track record and without evidence that taking the lottery online will solve/end this situation, Georgians are being asked to buy into a risky bet.
This is foot-in-the-door stuff hinting at state-authorized video terminals in the future, all other such electronic bandits (of which many are easily found around the state) currently being against state law. For now, only Mega Millions, Powerball and Fantasy 5 sales would be allowed online. How long before “scratch off games” show up on computer terminals the state authorizes and franchises while getting a piece of the action?
There’s already a proposal for such a mega-terminal, billion-dollar “entertainment complex” operation in Gwinnett County, supposedly creating 2,500 new jobs. Which actually isn’t all that many. Several major national casino operators and even Indian tribes have also hinted at a Georgia interest should it become legal … as part of major resort complexes similar to Cherokee, N.C. and even larger. Usually they talk about creating new jobs in the 10,000 range.
Additionally, even while Gov. Nathan Deal cheered (“I think that is a useful area to explore”) and former Gov. Zell Miller, who thought up the entire lottery/HOPE concept, reminded that all this is already allowed in the original 1992 law as its authors saw this day coming, one has to wonder how much Georgia Lottery folks know about computers/internet.
BESIDES SUCH online gaming supposedly limited to preloaded debit cards (something probably many of the current players do not have), requiring name, bank account and Social Security registration (that’s so winnings can get taxed), the lottery says players must be 18 and that IP addresses will be monitored to assure only players in Georgia can buy tickets with no out-of-state sales permitted.
Hilarious … Georgians can legally have sex at 16 but can’t buy a lottery ticket until 18? Will in-person ticket buyers have to show ID now? The many Alabamians now buying lottery tickets in Floyd County must keep driving here to play? How does one tell if an online player is 18-plus when the sex-trolling sites can’t stop under-age participation? As for monitoring IP addresses (servers from which the activity is coming), have these bureaucrats never heard of “proxies”?
Frankly, this looks like the start of a major attempt by state officials to increase and then monopolize all wagering in Georgia to lock up the potential profits/revenues therefrom for their own use and distribution. It could well be an attempt to eliminate — not just excessively regulate — private gaming enterprise.
By the way, in the Georgia lottery players get less than half of their dollars back in winnings. Of the rest, a small percentage goes to running the operation, including paying the store sales points, and most to doing a good thing, i.e., helping education. However, at a big-name “true” casino such as in Las Vegas, of every dollar gambled about 95-97 percent of the wagers become winnings. So, which would most Georgians prefer to play?
AND THIS, of course, may explain why state politicians seem to be actively moving toward becoming the only game in town.
Nonetheless, at this point in the dealing out of gaming cards, it would be wise for Georgians to be wary and ask a lot more questions. Never sit down at a poker table when the dealer, after the cards are dealt and he gets to peek at his hand, has the option to declare that deuces will now be wild.