There is a bill right now in the Utah legislature that proposes adding a state lottery in the Beehive State.
HJR 24 is being sponsored by Kera Birkeland, a Republican from Morgan. Although the state has long been opposed to any kind of gambling (a stance taken by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), Birkeland argues that a large number of Utahns cross the border into Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming or Colorado to purchase lottery tickets, especially when the prize grows to monumental proportions.
Right now the Mega-millions national lottery prize is more than $394-million and the Powerball is at $248-million. Utah is one of just five states that do not participate in the national lottery nor have a state lottery.
Birkeland makes the case that Utahns are going to buy the lottery tickets anyway, so why not let Utah reap the financial benefit, rather than let Utah's neighboring states get all the money.
Birkeland told KSL Radio that Utah could use the money, perhaps as much as $300-million a year, to cover gaps in education spending, upgrades in infrastructure or even a lowering of property taxes.
Birkeland said an organized program would provide one location per county to sell the lottery tickets.
“One location in every county, this way people aren’t continually making trips to Idaho, Wyoming and all these other places,” Birkeland told KSL.
So what are the odds that the resolution passes? Probably not too good.
While Biirkeland makes some good points as far as collecting revenue, the measure would require a change in the Utah Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority in both state chambers.
Plus, at least half of the Beehive State (and most of the legislature) counts itself as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which has always opposed gambling of any kind.
If somehow the measure passes both chambers and is endorsed by the governor, it would then go to ballot where Utah residents could vote for or against the proposal.
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