In the 5 states without lotteries, a case of Powerball envy

In the 5 states without lotteries, a case of Powerball envy thumbnail

WESTPOINT, Ga. Loretta Wilkins lives in Alabama and drove to Georgia to purchase a lottery ticket to win the $1.5 billion Powerball Jackpot.

She was among many Alabama ticket-buyers who flooded across state lines on Thursday. People across the country are clamoring to win the third-largest U.S. lottery prize. In some states, there is no lottery. Envious bystanders are sending money across state lines to their friends and family to try to get in on this action.

“I find it absurd that we have to drive in order to get a ticket for the lottery,” Williams, 67, stated.

Five states, Utah, Nevada, Hawaii and Alaska, do not have a lottery. They have been unable to participate due to a variety of reasons, including objections from conservatives and concerns about the impact on low income families.

” I’m sure that the people of Florida and Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia appreciate our contributions to their roads and bridges and many other things they spend that amount on,” said Chris England, a Democratic legislator from Tuscaloosa.

England receives calls from constituents every week asking when Alabama will approve a lottery. “Especially when people see it’s $1.5 million dollars on TV. “

A mix of opposition from churches as well as out-of-state gambling interest voted down a lottery referendum in 1999, Alabama. Since then, Lottery proposals in the legislature have stagnated. The issue is now intertwined into debates over electronic gambling.

In Georgia a billboard on Interstate 85 invites motorists to stop at the gas station claiming to be the “#1 Lottery Store” — just 2 miles (3 km) from the Alabama-Georgia border. At times, Georgia car tags outnumbered those from Alabama in the parking lot. A line was formed for ticket purchases that stretched across the entire store.

Similarly, anybody in Utah wanting a lottery ticket must drive to Idaho or Wyoming, the two nearest states to the Salt Lake City metro area, where most of the population resides. Due to strong opposition from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon church), lottery gambling has been banned in Utah for a long time. Salt Lake City is the home of the faith, and the majority of legislators and more than half the state’s residents are members of the faith.

In Malad (Idaho km) from the Utah line. KJ’s Kwik Stop takes advantage of Powerball not being played in Utah and directs Utah residents to buy tickets. Their website stated that “Just because Utah does not participate in the lottery doesn’t mean you can’t!” According to Cassie Rupp, a Kwik Stop cashier,

KJ sold hundreds of Powerball tickets to Utah residents in just one day on Thursday.

In Alaska when oil prices plummeted in recent years, legislation proposals to generate revenue via lottery games, including Powerball, fell apart. A 2015 report estimated that annual proceeds from a state lottery could reach $8 million, but warned that such a lottery could adversely affect charitable gaming activities like raffles.

Anchorage podcast host Keith Gibbons visited New York earlier this year but forgot to purchase a Powerball ticket. He didn’t know how big the jackpot was. His response when told it could be $1.5 billion: “I need a ticket.”

He believes even though Alaska is extremely diverse — Anchorage School District students speak more than 100 languages besides English in their homes — offering Powerball would appeal to everyone.

“There is a little of everyone here, so when you bring in things like this, it doesn’t just speak to Alaskan culture. Anchorage School District students speak more than 100 languages, which would make it appealing to all cultures.

Not everyone agrees.

Bob Endsley doesn’t like Powerball. Endsley believes that Alaskans should not have the chance to purchase tickets. Endsley said, “It’s waste of money.” He also criticized the increasing taxes and winnings that must be paid.

Taking a break from shoveling snow off his sidewalk, the Anchorage man said he once won $10,000 in a Canadian lottery. But it was so long ago, he said, that he doesn’t remember what he did with the windfall other than “paid taxes.”

Hawaii joins Utah as the two states prohibiting all forms of gambling. The Legislature regularly introduces measures to allow casinos or establish a lottery in Hawaii, but they fail to pass in committee.

Proponents claim legalizing gambling would be a disproportionately bad thing for Hawaii’s low-income residents and encourage gambling addictions. Some argue that Hawaii’s status as a family-friendly tourist destination is maintained by the absence of casinos. However, gambling is a popular pastime among Hawaii residents. Las Vegas is one of their top vacation spots.

Wearing an University of Alabama cap, John Jones of Montgomery (Alabama) bought a Powerball ticket in Georgia on Thursday. He voted in Alabama’s 1999 lottery and said that he hopes the lawmakers will try again. Jones, a retired painter, said that he doesn’t usually buy lottery tickets but decided to try it. He said that many Alabamians are doing the same at the Georgia shop. Jones, 67. said that he had made friends over there.


Thiessen reported from Anchorage, Alaska. This report was contributed by Audrey McAvoy, Becky Bohrer, Sam Metz, and Brady McCombs, all Associated Press writers, in Honolulu.

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