May 05, 2005
Lottery tickets via Internet shot down

Sorry, Lottery fans. The proposal that was recently floated to allow lottery tickets to be sold online has been scotched.

Lawmakers, seeking ways to help fund the state budget, rejected a measure, 89-52, that would have raised as much as $275 million more a year by allowing the lottery to debut on the Internet.

Passions rose in an unpredictably bipartisan fashion as lawmakers debated the virtues and vices of expanding gambling to pay for better education, health care and other programs that aid the youngest and most needy.

"Let's not allow the children to drown while we be holier than thou and say to them, 'Drown. We will save you in the afterlife,' " said Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, angered by lawmakers who said his gambling idea would hurt the poorest Texans most.

Turner's failed measure, prompting hours of the first gambling debate on the House floor this session, was among 46 ideas offered to reconcile the state's next two-year budget.

Sylvester Turner's taken enough abuse this session (quite a bit of it being warranted, I might add). I don't care to pile on this time. But I totally disagree with his premise here. What's needed is not a quick fix, especially one that really will just shuffle money around among poorer Texans. What's needed is an honest assessment of how we can pay for services we want and need. Lottery revenue is historically unstable, and there's a social cost to expanding its reach. We can and must do better than that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 05, 2005 to Jackpot! | TrackBack

"Let's not allow the children to drown while we be holier than thou and say to them, 'Drown. We will save you in the afterlife...'

Children can't even BUY lottery tickets legally. It's amazing what some politicians will do in order to invoke "the children" so everyone will think they are on the "right side" of the issue.

It's comical and, IMO, a little disgusting in this case since it has nothing to do with children.

Posted by: Tim on May 5, 2005 1:44 PM

Never mind what I wrote earlier. Turner is a proponent, not an opponent, of this idea. I misread the passage. Mea culpa. While I'm tired of everything being "for the children," at least playing the children card make some sense now given that they're looking for education and health care funding.

Still, since the lottery is a form of a regressive "tax" (not a true tax, I know, but still) since the working poor and lower-middle class tend to be the heaviest lottery players, his opponents are right in that it could swing "Robin Hood" in the reverse direction to a degree.

Posted by: Tim on May 5, 2005 4:27 PM

This "assestment" you mention was done last year, remember? The Lege cut services to a lot of poor people and liberals like you cried fowl. Now the State has an opportunity to raise additional revenue and you claim its going to "shuffle the burden on poor people." Which position do you stand by? Flip-Flopper!

Posted by: Big R and Proud on May 5, 2005 5:47 PM

I said an "honest" assessment. Last year we were still getting the rah-rah for expanded gambling by Governor Perry. In 2003, we got a line in the sand about spending. Neither was anywhere close to honest.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on May 5, 2005 6:12 PM

The Texas Lottery was supposed to solve all school funding problems... I didn't believe the sell job, yet I don't have a problem with this tax on the mathmatically challenged. Heck, it's their money -- who am I to control how they spend it?

I say if the lottery is legal, and the Internet is legal, only an obtuse authoritarian would prohibit the combination (or perhaps someone with a financial interest in the current methods of selling long shots.)

Posted by: bob on May 5, 2005 9:57 PM