|Powerball: Seven States That Refuse To Play|
|By ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||May 15, 2013, 5:21 PM|
With tonight's Powerball drawing set at a staggering $360 million, jackpot junkies eagerly await the announcement for the winning numbers to see if they beat the odds.
Forty-three states across the country participate in the multi-state lottery, with California being the most recent addition to the Powerball game in November.
But residents of Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming will have to head out of state to buy a ticket for the chance to cash in on the winning numbers of the third-largest Powerball jackpot of all time. Not only do these seven states not participate in the lottery game, they don't even have state lotteries of their own.
While states like Utah and Hawaii outlaw all gambling of all kinds -- be it charitable, commercial, at a racetrack, or on an Indian reservation casino -- others just require residents to cross state lines to get their drawings fixes or play at state-approved casinos such as those in Nevada and Mississippi.
Nevada State Gaming Control Board chairman A.G. Burnett told ABC News that Nevada doesn't have a lottery because of a decision in the state legislature made over 50 years ago.
"There was a decision in the state of Nevada as to whether we'd be just a casino-style gaming state or a state that allowed lotteries," he said. "The legislature put that language in years ago that said, we're just going to be a casino gaming state without a lottery."
As a result, the state bans lotteries with the exception of charitable drawings held by schools, local elks' clubs or boy scouts. Even then, these raffles need to be approved by the gaming control board, said Burnett, who signs off on five to 10 of those requests a month.
Burnett said every few years, there's a proposal to instate a commercial lottery in Nevada, but the rumblings usually die down.
"I think it's the gaming industry that doesn't want to have a lottery," he said. "That's pretty much the prevailing view even today."
In Alabama, the last time a state lottery was put to a vote was in 1999, when it was defeated despite entreaties that its revenues would help to improve the state's schools, according to The New York Times.
While the economic benefits states without lotteries fail to reap has not been documented, Wyoming's governor signed a bill into law to bring lottery games to the state in March, with revenues from ticket sales to benefit the state.
"We're hopeful it's going to be a profitable venture," said Wyoming state representative David Zwonitzer, who sponsored the bill, which takes effect July 1.
Zwonitzer said up to $6 million in proceeds from the Wyoming lottery will go to the cities and counties, and anything over that would be allocated to schools.
The concept of introducing a lottery to Wyoming has been toyed with for at least 10 years, Zwonitzer said. In the meantime, residents can flock to Colorado, Idaho and South Dakota to try their luck in winning some of the multistate lottery pots or gamble on the Internet.
Renny MacKay, spokesman for Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, said that the governor will appoint a board to oversee the lottery corporation in July, which will either decide to establish a state lottery or move to make Wyoming the newest state to join in the Powerball or Mega Millions games.
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, where the gaming industries in cities like Gulfport and Biloxi have grown sizably, instating a lottery is off the table.
"Every year we do have lottery bills that are filed, but typically it doesn't even make it out of the gaming committee," said Rob Vickery, staff officer at the executive division of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. "I think that casino operators like the current situation because they're the only game in town and the more conservative legislators don't really want to go on the record as voting for gaming."
"You have this kind of unholy alliance that the gaming industry and the anti-gaming people would come together and be against the expansion of gaming, which would include lotteries," he said.
Despite the lack of lotto, Mississippi also offers charitable gaming to its residents, boasting 80 bingo parlors throughout the state, Vickery said.
Jon Griffin, a policy associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said that while there's ample funding for casino studies, there hasn't been much empirical research on the economic impact on states that did not participate in lotteries.
"I've never conducted any research as to why these states aren't participating in lotteries," he said. "With so many states having lotteries compared to states that have casino gaming, most people don't think much about state lotteries."
Alaska residents can only try their luck in similar charitable gaming options, including bingo, pull tabs, dog mushers' contests and raffles. But in terms of getting involved with the lottery, there's no draw for locals.
Jeff Prather, gaming group supervisor for Alaska's Department of Revenue, said that while he wasn't sure that the state had made a decision to have a state lottery, a recent economic report indicated that it would not be a profitable activity in the state, "mainly because of the population."