Online gambling lobbyists have recently gained an ally in an unexpected place. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Georgia Lottery has joined the fight against Sheldon Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.
The Lottery is specifically lobbying against HR 4301, the Resolution of America’s Wire Act. The bill seeks to reverse a December 2011 memo from the Department of Justice that stated that the Wire Act was only applicable to sports betting. Should this bill pass, the Georgia Lottery and other states offering online lottery tickets will be forced to cease online sales.
That blockbuster memo was actually in direct response to an inquiry from Illinois and New York on whether the sale of online lottery tickets fell under the Wire Act. While the Wire Act memo has been responsible for helping to usher in legal online poker in the United States, lotteries were the initial stakeholders in this memo and the ones that it would initially impact.
Bill Could Cost Georgia Schools Millions
The Georgia Lottery started their online ticket sales in November 2012 and online sales have generated more than $6.6 million. Of that $6.6 million, almost $2 million has been allocated to the HOPE scholarship program and to pre-K programs in the state.
Georgia Lottery Director Debbie Dlugolenski Alford sent a pointed letter to a top U.S. House attorney in April, claiming that the passage of HR 4301 would put an end to a revenue stream that “continues to be critical to our success and our ability to grow revenues for education.”
Crunching the numbers, lottery officials estimate that the passage of this bill would cost the state $39 million in potential funding. That is equal to about 7,000 HOPE scholarships or 11,000 pre-K students.
Georgia Muddies the “Ethical Waters”
Sheldon Adelson and his coalition have been attempting to take the “moral high ground” in respect to online gambling since declaring war on the industry. Part of his attacks have centered on fear campaigns that claim that online gambling targets children and serves as a clear and present danger to their development.
The Georgia Lottery is pointing to the thousands of young people that they have been able to help because of online ticket sales. HR 4301 would make education much more difficult to many deserving youths, leading to potential lifelong deficits in education and reliance on government subsidies.
We’re intelligent enough to realize that online gambling carries risks. However, the Georgia Lottery is a prime example of how online gambling can be used for the greater good. Adelson paints the face of online gambling as a youth sadly losing on his iPad. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the face of online gambling is a student moving into their college dorm thanks to money donated to the HOPE scholarship program.