ScissorTales: Oklahoma lottery doesn't measure up nationally, but that's no surprise

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: July 28, 2012
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DATA collected by the website GamblingCompliance.com shows Oklahoma lagging most states in the amount of revenue generated by its lottery and the per capita spending on same. Neither should come as a great surprise.

The Oklahoma Lottery, which benefits education, has never come close to matching the projections of those who pushed hardest for its creation nearly a decade ago. We saw strong sales when it began in fall 2005, and for a time after, then a natural decline as the newness wore off.

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have lotteries. Oklahoma's gross lottery revenue of about $198 million during fiscal year 2011 placed us 10th from the bottom, according to GamblingCompliance. On a per capita basis we were third-to-last, ahead of only Montana and North Dakota.

Some of the highest per capita sales states, such as New York and Virginia, have “video lotteries,” which are essentially slot machines, instead of traditional scratch-off tickets. Oklahoma also has a wealth of tribal casinos, which have impacted lottery sales.

One observation from the GamblingCompliance data: High-tax states sell a lot of lottery tickets. New York, Massachusetts, California and New Jersey are Nos. 1, 2, 6 and 8 in revenues. Large populations help drive those totals, certainly. But maybe folks are also looking for a little relief in the way of jackpots big and small.

How things change

In March, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney drew just 28 percent of the vote in Oklahoma's Republican presidential primary. That led some to suggest Romney's past political moderation and his Mormon faith were a bridge too far for Oklahoma conservatives. Some thought Romney would struggle to attract state voters this November. Looks like those predictions were wrong — very wrong. In May, a SoonerPoll survey found Romney leading President Barack Obama 62-27 in Oklahoma while a poll by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates found Romney leading 55-30. And now it appears Romney is on track to shatter Oklahoma fundraising records for a presidential candidate. As of June, Romney has raised $1.9 million in Oklahoma, just shy of the fundraising record for the entire election cycle. If Oklahomans had any reservations about Romney, Obama's pitiful economic record and love of big-government solutions made Oklahoma voters forget all about them.

Uncomfortable truth

Dan Cathy has stirred up quite a hornet's nest. Cathy, president of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, had the audacity to say recently that he defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman: “Guilty as charged.” This has riled up the liberal masses. Boston's mayor says he no longer wants Chick-fil-A in his city. The company behind the Muppets backed out of a deal to partner with Chick-fil-A on kids meal toys. An alderman in Chicago says he plans to prevent the company from building a restaurant in his ward. “If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don't want you in the 1st Ward,” he said. But Chick-fil-A isn't discriminating against anyone. Cathy is an easy target because he's an unabashed Christian who walks the walk — for example, his restaurants are closed on Sundays. If Cathy were a Muslim, would anyone have said boo about his stance on gay marriage? No way. He certainly wouldn't have been subjected to vitriol such as that spewed by “actress” Roseanne Barr, who tweeted that anyone who eats Chick-fil-A “deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4Christ.”

Environmentally friendly?

Under the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing regulations targeting alleged air pollution from existing power plants. The regulations have been called a “war on coal” by critics, and their implementation is expected to increase the cost of power for consumers, potentially by a significant amount. An estimated $10 billion annual increase in compliance costs is expected for power plants. Obama and his environmental allies say not to worry. At the same time he targets coal-fired electric generation, the president is touting and subsidizing “green” power alternatives. The failed Solyndra solar business is only the most infamous example. But it turns out those power sources aren't so environmentally friendly after all. Biomass plants have received at least $700 million in state and federal subsidies, yet The Wall Street Journal notes 85 of 107 biomass plants nationally have been cited for violating air-pollution or water-pollution standards.

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