Opinion | Alabama needs a lottery

Victor Hagan, Contributing Columnist

While morally questionable to some, gambling is an everyday activity in the United States. A report from the National Council on Problem Gambling found that approximately 85% of adults have gambled in their lifetime. 

Groups of friends will host poker nights to swipe each others’ paychecks, while some venture to Las Vegas just for the casinos. Many even buy lottery tickets in hopes of never having to work again.

All of these pastimes are currently illegal in the state of Alabama. Implementing a lottery has proven to benefit other states, and Alabama should take the steps necessary to reap the same outcomes.

States with lotteries receive about 40% of the prize money after taxes, according to NPR. While taxes are a whole different conversation, that 40% makes a huge difference for the area each state puts it toward respectfully.

States with lotteries, such as Georgia and New Hampshire, use their state lotteries to assist college-bound students with tuition. 

According to U.S. News & World Report, Alabama currently ranks 47th in overall education, 39th in higher education and 45th in K-12.

In addition, Pennsylvania’s state lottery provides care for senior citizens, including housing and meals. Alabama ranks 44th in elderly healthcare

We are only as great as how we treat those in need. If we can barely give back to those who have given, then we’re not doing enough.

Implementing similar policies for a state lottery could provide additional funds to public classrooms and give those children more and better opportunities to pursue higher education. 

Alabama’s financial priorities are in shambles. Governor Kay Ivey believes that funding for a waterpark is more important than education. Our youth need all the help they can get. 

There’s an argument that lotteries prey on the poor, taking the money they have in return for the false hope of winning it big. However, when you look at the lottery income from Alabama’s border states — Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee — their lottery incomes are high. Many Alabamians will simply take the time to go state over for a Powerball ticket.

The money is going to be spent either way. So, it might as well go towards bettering the state we go to school in, rather than Georgia or Tennessee, to improve Alabama as a whole.

A state lottery won’t solve all of our problems, but the extra income to pour back into at least one cause can make great strides to better our state. 

If nothing else, 18-year-olds won’t have to drive across state lines on their birthday.