May 22, 2016
Play the (Your State Here) Lottery!
Here is a list of states that people might assume have little to nothing in common:
With exception to perhaps Alabama and Mississippi, these states could not be any ideologically different, but there is one major aspect of these states that is shared: None of them have a State Lottery.
In the cases of Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii and Utah the complete absence of any State Lottery would seem indicative of a general Legislative distaste for gambling. Why, Legislative, well according to this Article:
62% of Alabama residents now want a lottery. The issue was most recently voted upon, literally, last century (as in the 20th Century, not to be confused with 100+ years ago) and the Legislature has addressed (read: killed) the matter every year since then. Alabama residents should want more than a lottery, in my opinion, they should want casinos!
Here's the thing: Even if you make the argument that people in the central part of a state are not going to travel to gamble at a non-destination city (such as Las Vegas) border people will travel to gamble. Some Alabamans travelling in states bordering Alabama almost certainly stop to pick up lottery tickets at the gas stations of border states, and they probably buy their gas, sodas and perhaps cigarettes while they are there, too!
When State Lotteries hold anywhere from 30%-50% of all monies bet, is there any reason that you would ever want the people of your State to be essentially donating money to support the State Lotteries, and by extension, the General Funds of surrounding states? That just makes absolutely no sense!
Who are you protecting?
What are you protecting them from?
We, here in the State of Good Ol' Alabama believe strongly in protecting our good citizens from making their own decisions about what to do with their money, y'all.
Here's a News Flash: The only thing they are being protected from is doing what they want in the State of Alabama and for which the State of Alabama (and whatever funds the revenues go to) would be a beneficiary. You are protecting citizens of other States, though, from the goods and services of that State being reduced or suspended because they cannot be paid for, those goods and services will continue, in part, because of what people in your own State are spending there.
West Virginia, Oregon and Nevada (though some entities in Nevada :cough: Stations Casinos :cough: would rather it be otherwise) are among the states that have what West Virginians term, 'Slot Parlors,' these are Limited License locations (five machines in West Virginia for a business and ten machines for a private and non-profit club) that are regulated (and taxed) by the respective state that offer a quiet place to gamble as opposed to the loud casinos that some people do not like. Another thing, they are brilliant!!!
The parlors in West Virginia are the very definition of, 'Convenience Gambling,' while full-on casinos are legal in the States of Ohio and Pennsylvania, many of those close to the border will hop on over to West Virginia to play the West Virginia VLT's in a glorified bar because they are closer than the casinos are.
As you will see in a study that I have conducted and will be released in the next few days, West Virginia has the sixth highest loss per resident to the various forms of gambling (including Tribal Casinos, Commercial Casinos and Lottery) of any of the States. They are beaten by well-known states for gambling such as Nevada and Mississippi and they actually BEAT NEW JERSEY in gambling loss per resident. Unlike the tourist destination states mentioned above, however, most of West Virginia's Gambling Loss comes from its own citizens and those of border states, the reason why is simple, if you are a resident of West Virginia...then one of these locations is probably, as some West Virginian's say, "In spittin' distance!"
Here's the thing: Within the context of a semi-capitalistic society it comes down to survival of the fittest, but to be fit, one needs resources and MONEY MEANS RESOURCES. Whether or not an entity is an individual, business or state, one of the major goals of an entity should be to acquire as many of these resources (again: money) as possible, and West Virginia is a State showing itself to be surprisingly fit in this regard...at least, as far as gambling loss revenues are concerned.
Alabama, on the other hand, not so much. Alabama is currently encouraging (by way of not having casinos or a lottery) its citizens to enable other states to have resources that would otherwise rightfully go to the State of Alabama, and for what, Legislated Morality? I made this same argument with respect to Gay Marriage, just because someone is a dude doesn't mean he has to marry a dude, so how does the ability of two dudes to legally marry affect the dude that would rather not marry another dude?
At the end of the day, it should be a question of personal choice, so the State of Alabama needs to do the moral (and intelligent) thing and pass that choice down to the individual citizens once again. Furthermore, the vote for allowing a Lottery (if not casinos) should be 100% to 0% in an ideal world. If one is not going to gamble in the lottery, then one cannot possibly lose any money to the lottery, however, if one lives in a state that has and benefits from a lottery, then by extension, the individual who does not choose to gamble in the lottery also benefits from the lottery.
Actually, the individual who does not gamble in the lottery benefits to a greater extent as money goes to the state (which, in turn, provides the individual goods and services) but the individual is not paying into that system to any greater extent that previous.
Let's move on to Utah.
Here's an amusing Facebook Page called 1,000,000 People Favor a Lottery in Utah:
Since 62.64% of the populace of the State of Utah is Mormon:
I shall now quote from the Book of Mormon of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
"'Verily, Verily, I say unto thee,' spoke the prophet of God, Joseph Smith, 'That thou shalt goest forth in droves to a not-so-distant land called Malad, in the realm of Idaho, to pick up your Powerball tickets. For, on this night as ordained by God, the jackpot shalt exceed the anointed figure of 900 million dollars and this is an opportunity, perhaps the only opportunity, for these great riches to be conferred upon your wretched soul. If thou art so lucky as to receive such riches, thou shalt venture forth to Salt Lake City and improve upon the temples of our fine Churches and to create a new tabernacle, perhaps one made out of solid gold...'"***
Seriously, the Powerball has a huge jackpot, and the inhabitants of Utah line up in droves to get tickets in Idaho, and perhaps other bordering states. In fact, it has been said that residents of Las Vegas, yes, THE Las Vegas, occasionally venture to bordering states in order to get tickets when the jackpot reaches a number sufficient for them to elect to do so.
Okay, I'm done talking about Utah. It's simply too hard, every time I use the word, 'Utah,' I start laughing. I know, that's unprofessional, but it's also involuntary, there are reflexive reactions at play, here. I apologize.
If we take a look at Nevada and Mississippi, these are two states that two have something in common, and that is that they are huge casino states that generate a significant loss to players for each member of their population. In fact, they rank numbers 1 and 3, respectively, but neither state has a lottery.
I can almost understand the hesitation given the other forms of gambling in those two states, however, even if the casinos compete with those states for lottery business, the lottery cannot fail. The casinos, by the way, will not fail. What I found in my study is that casino revenues and lottery revenues often have nothing to do with one another with States generating appreciable lottery revenues even though they have casinos. Furthermore, some of the states that do poorly on Lottery Revenues do not have casinos. In fact, there are certain states in which you can buy lottery tickets IN CASINOS such as Pennsylvania, at least, that is the case in some of the casinos.
Fundamentally, I simply believe that Traditional Lottery forms (Draw, Scratch-Offs) attract a different market than is attracted to the casinos. Draw Lottery players really seem to be about anticipation rather than instant letdown or gratification, for instance, people often buy tickets to drawings that are not scheduled to take place until days later. I'm not suggesting that the presence of a State Lottery will not cost casinos a single dollar in revenues that the otherwise would have had, I'm merely suggesting that State Lotteries will garner revenues from people who do not play at the casinos (or go to neighboring states for tickets) and that those revenues are good for the states themselves regardless of what happens to the casinos in terms of revenue.
I think that Nevada should take the first step of the two States, considering that every other form of gambling is legal there. I also think that, in the spirit of Nevada Casinos and the low tax rates placed thereupon, that the Nevada State Lottery should offer the lowest holds of any State Lottery in the entire country. I'm talking about drawings that return 75% of the amount wagered, scratch-offs that return 80-85% of the amount wagered. It can be done, it can be done profitably, and Nevada is just the State in which to prove that.
In fact, preliminary details from my last major project have led me to begin a new project suggesting that State Lotteries with greater returns, on average, perform BETTER in loss per resident than those with poorer returns.
Hawaii and Alaska:
I am going to group these two states together as they are both very similar on gambling laws with one exception being that Alaska has no problem with Charitable Gambling while all forms of gambling are illegal in Hawaii.
Hawaii, what the Hell is wrong with you? Those beaches, the ocean, the islands, the drinks, the women...oh, sweet God, the women...why the Hell are you not building a casino smack in the middle of Honolulu right now? Are you crazy? Do you hate money that much? Do you not know that the California Casino in Las Vegas is the go-to destinations for Hawaiians wanting to gamble?
Do you not understand that it was once the beaches and the Boardwalk, in conjunction with the casinos, that made Atlantic City such a powerful tourist destination for so many years? Do you not understand the kind of business you might garner if you competed with Las Vegas to be THE destination by cutting their legs right under them by way of offering the ONE thing that they have and you don't? What the Hell is wrong with you as a State!?
With that tirade out of the way, those two states kind of cut my legs out from under me when it comes to my primary argument about revenues going to other states being derived from the residents of the states that do not have a State Lottery. It's not as though Alaskans or Hawaiians can exactly drive two miles across the border to grab their lottery tickets, or anything else, for that matter. The lottery, in this sense, would effectively amount to a tax on their own citizens, generally the poorest, as opposed to them simply rising up to the competition of bordering states by offering a lottery of their own and keeping the money within their borders.
Of course, former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan said just today (5/21/2016) that he would be in favor of a Lottery to help with the state's budget crisis because it is essentially a tax...but only on those who want to play:
Please read the above-linked Article for a refreshing dose of common sense.
On the flip side of that coin is a state like Hawaii:
Perfectly happy to tax you if you win, but not happy enough to give you the means to buy the ticket there.
***Not actually a quote from the Book of Mormon, just to be clear.
Mississippi has casinos too, so you'd think... Yeah, I know, on barges; however, that is a fiction now that they have allowed them to tiptoe on to shore
Most of the, 'Riverboat,' states have... Mississippi is a very gambling-friendly state, in general, I actually authored a huge WoV Page analyzing which states are the most, 'Gambling-Crazed,' based on average annual loss per resident of the state. Obviously, Nevada won and most of those are not losses to resident of Nevada, but that makes it no less important to the state as a whole.
Alabama has some casinos. Windcreek Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka