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Oklahoma lottery funds still tied up

Mar 18, 2005, 7:54 am

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Oklahoma LotteryOklahoma Lottery: Oklahoma lottery funds still tied up

Legislators are still working on details of a plan to give the new Oklahoma Education Lottery Commission an emergency appropriation of $500,000, a Senate leader said Wednesday.

"We're trying to get all the legal problems worked out," said Sen. Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, Senate appropriations chairman.

He said getting startup money to the commission presents a legal quagmire because the state question adopted by voters last fall prohibits the use of General Revenue Fund money for lottery purposes and requires that the lottery be a "self-sustaining" operation.

Morgan held out hope that the Senate could act on the funding before adjourning Thursday for the weekend.

"I think we can have it done by then at least that's still our plan," he said.

Earlier, House Appropriations Chairman Chris Benge said lawmakers were considering language that would allow an appropriation to the commission, but require the panel to pay back the money.

Gov. Brad Henry, who pushed the lottery plan through the Legislature a year ago, requested the $500,000 supplemental appropriation in his executive budget.

Henry's top financial aide, Office of State Finance Director Scott Meacham, said a lack of speed in getting funding to the new agency could stymie plans to have scratch-on lottery tickets up for sale this fall.

The lottery panel will hold its third meeting next week and is expected to hear comments from executive directors of lotteries in other states.

At a late-night meeting Wednesday, the House approved a bill by Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman, which would bar the use of actors to portray lottery winners in advertisements promoting the lottery.

The measure also requires a statement of "the harmful effects of playing the lottery" in all lottery ads.

Balkman said lottery players have little chance of winning and state advertising "should admit it up front."

"If you know you have no chance of winning and you still choose to play, that's your decision, but you shouldn't be tricked into buying tickets by misleading advertising," said Balkman, who voted against the lottery program last year.


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June 5, 2002
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Please get it up and running by October.