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Issue of the Week: The future of the Arizona Lottery

Illustration by Cody Angell
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 30, 2002

Among the 15 propositions on next Tuesday's ballot is Proposition 301, which would keep the Arizona Lottery alive and kicking through 2012.

Proponents of Proposition 301 argue that it helps fund state programs that would otherwise be hurting for revenue.

Opponents say gambling should not be sponsored by government, and the benefits of the lottery supposedly do little to help the state.

Currently, the lottery is set to expire July 1, 2003. Should Arizonans pick it up for another nine years? Or should we let the clock run out?

Kendrick Wilson

Lottery helps environmental, healthcare programs

Once again, extending the Arizona Lottery has come before voters. In 2000, the voters were asked to extend the lottery by three years, and now we're being asked to extend it through 2012.

There are many good reasons for voting to keep the lottery. Revenues from the lottery are largely regulated by voter-approved initiatives, funneling the money into programs like the Heritage Fund, which underwrites environmental projects and promotes environmental education, as well as healthcare programs for underprivileged children. Very little lottery money actually makes it back to the general fund.

It's nearly impossible to imagine the Heritage Fund or certain children's healthcare programs taking place in Arizona without lottery money. The Legislature has been hesitant to fund such programs, and is eager to take all the lottery money for the general fund. If we don't approve this extension of the lottery and the Legislature reinstates it later, all the money would go to the general fund, and our initiative-directed programs would disappear.

In a time when budgets are so tight that education is skinned to the bone, state parks are closing, and massive layoffs are occurring throughout state government, lottery-funded programs are needed more than ever! Keep the Heritage Fund going and keep programs that keep our kids healthy up and running. Vote yes on Prop. 301.

Kendrick Wilson is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at

Tylor Brand

Lottery no solution to legislators' empty heads

I hate the lottery. Why, you may ask? The lottery is possibly the most crooked conception ever devised by governments basically a revenue machine that every week kicks in taxes based on a game of impossible chance and by duping poor people into playing and funding the state. In the civilian arena, this is called racketeering. But why make something totally illegal when you can profit from it?

The lottery breakdown is: $23 million to local transportation systems, $23 million to the general fund (which is split up largely among healthcare and education), $17 million to the Heritage Fund a conservation effort and the rest is split among several other programs.

The big argument is that it funds education; but in doing so, the Legislature gives money based on last year's figures (i.e. totally pulled from their asses) and thus, we have accounting problems that would make Arthur Andersen proud! Why? Because people are gradually realizing what a crock Lotto is, and therefore, our figures are greatly inflated compared to the elusive concept of reality. Thus funding is skewed and schools are treated like Russian mail-order brides once again.

So, kill Prop. 301. It was recommended to the people by the Legislature, which demonstrates just who this is really helping.

Tylor Brand is a philosophy sophomore. He can be reached at

Mariam Durrani

Lottery lesser of two evils

Opponents of Prop. 301 say that the lottery preys on the poor people who can least afford to gamble. The option to gamble is always out there, whether it's legal or illegal, so let's void that argument. And if they were to gamble in any other arena, the money they lose would go to illegal activities; whereas with the lottery, you give up a dollar or two and it helps the state.

In the fiscal year 2001, $79 million was distributed among state programs such as local transportation program, mass transit, county assistance, economic development and the Heritage Fund.

Now let's say the lottery ceases to exist. With the way money is in the country these days, how would any of these programs get money anymore? There would be no money, so the programs would suffocate and eventually wither away and die.

Look at the bigger picture. The money from these "poor" people is going back into the community. We have to pick the lesser of two evils, even if we don't like the lesser evil. The lottery might be a sneaky way to get money to pay for state programs, but it's better than losing the state programs and letting the gambling community pour money down the drain in illegal games.

Vote yes on Prop. 301, the lesser of two evils.

Mariam Durrani is a systems engineering senior. She can be reached at

Jason Baran

Arizona lottery is just another one-armed bandit

Letting the lottery die would be a horrible idea. The poor Arizona Lottery prospector would lose his job. At his age, he'd probably have to go on Social Security and eat dog food so he can buy his gout medicine. Actually, he'll be OK. He can probably find work for a diamond mine in Canada.

The lottery reportedly puts about $80 million per year into the state's general fund. Many of the state's municipalities and programs get lottery money. That's nice. But like the proposed casino money, it's less than a drop in a very large bucket.

So, the state sells out for an inconsequential pittance. In the meantime, gambling addiction has grown significantly over the years. Members of Arizona's Congressional delegation have written that the number of chapters for Gamblers Anonymous has quadrupled from 5 to 21 in the past seven years.

The lottery only exacerbates problem gambling and the state should not condone it, much less continue to institutionalize it. Just as the state shouldn't distribute marijuana and distill alcohol, it shouldn't run numbers.

Turning down Prop. 301 is advisable because it gets the state out of a business usually associated with the shadowy underworld of organized crime.

Jason Baran is a public administration and policy graduate student. He can be reached at

Daniel Cucher

Should the people of Arizona blot-o the lotto?

Argument for Prop. 301:

Last year, the Arizona State Lottery brought in almost $80 million for the state. According to the official lottery Web page, revenue went to everything from promoting clean air to puppet shows.

No lottery, no puppet shows. No puppets shows, more miserable children.

Arizona has enough miserable children. Why torture them by making puppet shows scarce?

Argument against Prop. 301:

Lotteries encourage gambling. Gambling encourages people to cash in their children's college fund.

No college fund, no education. No education, stupid children.

Arizona has enough stupid children. They join gangs and shoot each other. A vote for Prop. 301 condemns our children to bloody gangland deaths.

Chaos theory argument:

Every time someone buys a lottery ticket, a bat flaps its wings in Costa Rica.

Lottery ticket haiku:
My lucky ticket?
One out of six numbers match!
Must keep selling crack.

What to do with a losing ticket:

Frame it and call it modern art. Tell people it represents the toxic bait of postindustrial consumer culture.

Next Saturday's winning Powerball numbers:

10, 15, 23, 16, 19, and the Powerball is 2.

How you should vote on Prop. 301:

You have the choice between gang violence and no puppet shows. Vote wisely.

Daniel Cucher is a creative writing senior. He can be reached at

Jessica Lee

Invest in Arizona luck today buy a lottery ticket

With a potential state budget deficit of over a billon dollars, no one deserves to be in the position of eliminating the state lottery.

Until alternative state funding strategies can be devised to aid local programs transportation and mass transit, the Heritage Fund, the 15 Arizona counties, the Economic Development Fund and other public works it is ludicrous to spend one second debating the validity of the lottery.

The lottery is not a tax on the poor, but rather a levy on people who consciously use a few dollars out of their own pocket to invest in Arizona because they feel lucky.

Until our Legislature stops subsidizing the 900-number and escort industry, and using that money more wisely, sponsoring a state lottery is completely ethical.

A vote against the proposition is a vote for terminating the Heritage Fund. Last year the program received $17 million that translates into ten of the thirty state parks being threatened with closures. Ninety percent of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's non-game budget will be gone, and with it funding for endangered species, research, environmental programs and more.

If Prop. 301 fails, the future of Arizona's lucky programs will be bleak.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science senior. She can be reached at


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