Tax Law

State Net Capitol Journal – April 13, 2015; Lottery Success Spurs Backlash

Budget & Taxes

Lottery Success Spurs Backlash

State lottery sales topped $70 billion last year in the 43 states that have them, according to the American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. That sum represents more than 10 percent of the states’ total revenues for the year. But that very success is fueling a backlash against the games, with some lawmakers and anti-gambling advocates contending lotteries have gone too far.

One area of concern is problem gambling.

“State lotteries have a business model that’s based on getting up to 70 to 80 percent of their revenue from 10 percent of the people that use the lottery,” said Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling.

That worry and others have prompted legislative efforts in some states to limit lottery ticket purchases with credit cards, ban online ticket sales and raise awareness about gambling addiction. Those efforts have faced resistance from gambling advocates, however. And Minnesota has been a particularly hot spot, with lottery officials there pushing for online expansion over the objections of lawmakers.

“We have an obligation as the lottery to keep up with the times,” said the state lottery’s executive director, Ed Van Petten. “To do that, you have to have a presence on the Internet.”

Rep. Greg Davids (R), chairman of the House Taxes Committee and a chief proponent of reining in the lottery, didn’t seem inclined to agree with that view.

“It’s kind of like the lottery’s gone wild,” he said. “This is way out of control.” (STATELINE.ORG)

KS Aims to Limit How Welfare Recipients Spend Benefits

Kansas House Bill 2258, passed by the Sunflower State Legislature this month, would prohibit recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families from spending those funds on a long list of items including alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets, concerts, sporting events, tattoos, body piercings, fortune telling, bail bonds, cruises, gambling and “adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state.” The bill also limits TANF recipients from making more than $25 in ATM withdrawals per day.

Sen. Michael O’Donnell (R), vice chair of his chamber’s standing committee on public health and welfare, said the legislation was intended to compel TANF recipients to spend “more responsibly.”

“We’re trying to make sure those benefits are used the way they were intended,” he said. “This is about prosperity. This is about having a great life.”

But during debate on the bill in the House, Rep. Carolyn Bridges, a member of the Legislature’s Democratic minority, said: “I just think we are simply saying to people, ‘If you are asking for assistance in this state, you’re sort of less than other people and we’re going to tell you how and where to spend your money.’”

Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is expected to sign the bill, although his spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, said he planned to review it carefully. (WASHINGTON POST, LEXISNEXIS STATE NET)

Budgets In Brief - April 13 2015

Tax collections from oil and natural gas companies in OKLAHOMA fell to $39.6 million in March, a 48 percent decline from March of last year and the lowest level since September 2002 (OKLAHOMAN [OKLAHOMA CITY]). * GEORGIA’s General Assembly passed a $1 billion transportation funding plan last month. The funding will go mostly toward a massive backlog of maintenance projects (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, LEXISNEXIS STATE NET).

- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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