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Lottery tickets may soon be sold on military bases

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Lottery tickets may soon be sold on military bases

More than 178,000 retail outlets across 41 states and the District of Columbia sell state lottery tickets. Last year these retailers earned more than $3 billion in commissions on ticket sales of almost $49 billion.

Military exchanges want a piece of that action.

Congress is weighing a first-ever proposal from the Department of Defense to amend current law to allow lottery ticket sales in stateside exchanges, except where such sales would pinch the businesses of blind vendors already selling lottery tickets on base.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials, in drafting the proposal, argued that lottery sales would help to offset a sharp drop in revenues for morale, welfare and recreational activities from a drawdown of U.S. forces from Europe and Korea through 2009.

The troop pullback is expected to cut in half about $100 million in net funding from the operation of slot machines at U.S. bases overseas.

John M. Molino, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, confirmed that the loss of slot machine revenue was the reason AAFES officials gave Congress to urge approval of lottery ticket sales in exchanges. But a bigger motivator for AAFES, he said, is the obvious business opportunities stateside lottery sales present.

Lawmakers have been silent on the AAFES proposal since it arrived on Capitol Hill in May. At least a few members of Congress are expected to oppose it vigorously, on moral grounds, arguing that lottery sales would encourage military shoppers to gamble, said a congressional staff member who has studied the proposal.

Lottery retailers get a commission of five to eight percent on tickets sold, depending on state rules and incentives. Pennsylvania lottery officials pitch it to retailers saying they will attract more customers and that 80 percent of lottery patrons buy at least one other item with every visit. In Pennsylvania, lottery players on average buy seven tickets at a time.

State lottery ticket sales last year averaged $183.70 for every man, woman and child living within lottery states, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

AAFES officials haven't analyzed their potential revenue gain, Molino said. But he added, "Whatever share that is, they would like to get a piece of it." Navy and Marine Corps exchanges also would sell lottery tickets if the proposal wins approval.

Molino said he has no sense yet if other lottery retailers will oppose ticket sales in exchanges. Currently, the law allows only blind vendors to sell lottery tickets on base. Molino said he doesn't know how many blind vendors do so, but the proposed legislation would bar exchanges from encroaching on their sales.

The Army is the service most worried about a drop in slot machine revenues from a global re-stationing of forces over the next several years.

Peter Isaacs, chief operating officer for the Army Community and Family Support Center, estimates that the Army inventory of slot machines will drop by 800. Total morale, welfare and recreational revenue, for the Army alone, will fall from $90 million to $40 million.

"There is no way to stimulate or to replicate those machines elsewhere," Isaacs said. "Obviously you can't use gambling devices in the United States. That is just less revenue to the totality of Army (nonappropriated fund) operations."

By law, certain base activities such as golf courses, recreation clubs, bowling alleys and marinas, must be self-sustaining, which means no taxpayer support or reliance on "appropriated" dollars. Overseas slot machines support such activities, primarily with construction funds.

The services contend that operating slot machines overseas is a safer way to entertain troops, and with more favorable odds, than gambling alternatives found off base. A Defense Department report to Congress several years ago concluded that slot machines don't significantly impact member indebtedness or aggravate pathological gambling disorder.

Isaacs said the transfer of troops stateside will relieve some of the need for morale, welfare and recreational facilities in Europe and Korea, but also will strain stateside facilities at a time when revenue support is falling.

"It's not like these people are going away. We're going to see some significant increases in the populations of certain ConUS (continental United States) installations...The slot machine program has been one of the major components that allows us to fund those things," Isaacs said.

Exchange profits also fund morale, welfare and recreational programs. Indeed, the Army last year received $150 million from AAFES. But Isaacs predicted the overall gain to morale, welfare and recreational programs from exchange lottery ticket sales would be relatively modest.

"If you look at what the average citizen spends per capita per year on lottery, it's a fair amount. But then AAFES gets a percentage of that, and then it's divided between us and the Air Force and AAFES. So the trickle-down effect applies," said Isaacs.

"I'm not scoffing at any amount of money," Isaacs added. "But it certainly won't offset the significant decrease of cash that will accrue because of what's going on in the Army."

A congressional staff member challenged that assessment. Lottery ticket sales could be a boon, both to exchanges and to morale, welfare and recreational programs revenues.

"People have demonstrated an uncanny ability to invest in these things," he said. "It's hard to know what the level of sales" will be.

A bigger question for Congress, he said, is how lottery sales would serve some greater good for the military community. "The whole moral issue," he predicted, "is going to be the first line of debate."

To comment, write Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120-1111, e-mail milupdate@aol.com or visit www.militaryupdate.com.

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9 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 1
Avatar
New Mexico
United States
Member #12305
March 10, 2005
2984 Posts
Offline
Posted: September 12, 2005, 9:31 am - IP Logged

The military services could probably benefit by a lottery of their own with tickets sold on the bases where ever there are GIs.  They'd be able to make the payoffs better than the state lotteries because their schools are already being taken care of.  That ought to make for a healthy lottery.

The distinction between slot machines on base in overseas bases, and lottery tickets sold throughout the system is too subtle for my mind to grasp.

Jack

Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

It's about number behavior.

Egos don't count.

 

Dedicated to the memory of Big Loooser

 

    bobby623's avatar - abstract
    San Angelo, Texas
    United States
    Member #1097
    January 31, 2003
    1394 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: September 12, 2005, 10:03 am - IP Logged

    The anti-computer drawing folks should use this proposal to insist that only lottery tickets sold in states with mechanical drawing machines could be purchased on military bases.

    Bobby

     

      wizeguy's avatar - animaniacs04

      United States
      Member #15143
      May 10, 2005
      414 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: September 12, 2005, 10:32 am - IP Logged

      The anti-computer drawing folks should use this proposal to insist that only lottery tickets sold in states with mechanical drawing machines could be purchased on military bases.

      Bobby

       

      Hi Bobby,

      Good idea! I Agree!

        Avatar
        Sparta, NJ
        United States
        Member #18331
        July 9, 2005
        1977 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: September 12, 2005, 8:40 pm - IP Logged

        Congressmen bringing up moral issue? Obviously, some one is scrimping on the required donations.

        Cheers

        |||::> *'`*:-.,_,.-:*''*:--->>> Chewie  <<<---.*''*:-.,_,.-:*''* <:::|||

        I only trust myself - and that's a questionable choice

          BaristaExpress's avatar - BaristaExpressMX zpsfb0d8b5d.png
          Magnolia, Delaware
          United States
          Member #18795
          July 20, 2005
          789 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: September 14, 2005, 12:39 am - IP Logged

          Congressmen bringing up moral issue? Obviously, some one is scrimping on the required donations.

          Since when do Congressmen have morals? I have yet to see one that does have morals of any kind! They lie, lie, lie just to get elected and why is that? that freaking penson plan and healthcare package is the best in the WORLD and of course there are other perks for them! So why not lie and throw the morals out the window until the word gambling comes into play. Those SOB's need to play it straight from the start (be on the moral side of things all the time) or be honest that they really don't give two hoots one-way or the other, because they are only there for the penson & healthcare packages.

          So someone might be scrimping on the donations, they could careless! Reason being, who else in the US can vote themselves a Pay Raise? And not person can stop it! NO ONE!! So in the long run they don't need donations while in office, until re-election time, then it's back to the drawing board of telling lie after lie after lie............................

          Keep dreaming the impossible dream, it just may come true! Thumbs Up

            Avatar
            New Mexico
            United States
            Member #12305
            March 10, 2005
            2984 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: September 14, 2005, 9:21 pm - IP Logged

            Sooooo Barista,

            What's your sort of general feeling about the US Congress, other than that?  Put it more on the positive side, or the negative side ooverall?

            Jack

            Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

            It's about number behavior.

            Egos don't count.

             

            Dedicated to the memory of Big Loooser

             

              BaristaExpress's avatar - BaristaExpressMX zpsfb0d8b5d.png
              Magnolia, Delaware
              United States
              Member #18795
              July 20, 2005
              789 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: September 14, 2005, 10:13 pm - IP Logged

              OK Rip, Our Congress is nothing but a bunch of thieves when it benefits them! But when the right vote could be for the good of others (moral or not should have no bearing) they push it to the back burner until pressure is put on them! This isn't right and they know it, but they don't care! Congress has way way to much power and they more checks and balances (Just like some police departments have) to keep them in-line! They feel they owe us the people no explanations of any kind for the actions they take when they take it, even if the action they took was the wrong one! All they do is pass the buck and blame for this and that to everyone else and Never place/take the blame themselves! 

              Keep dreaming the impossible dream, it just may come true! Thumbs Up

                Avatar
                New Mexico
                United States
                Member #12305
                March 10, 2005
                2984 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: September 14, 2005, 11:20 pm - IP Logged

                I can't disagree, barista, except to say the power they have too much of they've mostly abdicated to the Executive Branch. 

                Still, I don't feel the acrimony for them you appear to.  It's a disease of system rather than one of individuals.  The inevitable outcome of having a cadre of professional politicians in all levels of government, all branches.  It all becomes too cozy, too inbred, too prone to become mirror images of one another no matter what the party.

                Just the price of having a citizenry that's satisfied with that sort of thing.

                Hitler once said of Il Duce that he was a leader who deserved a better people.  Fact is, both the Italian people and Il Duce deserved one another.  Same with Hitler and the Germans.  Same with the US Citizenry and this president, this Congress.

                Water always finds its own level.

                Jack

                Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

                It's about number behavior.

                Egos don't count.

                 

                Dedicated to the memory of Big Loooser

                 


                  United States
                  Member #379
                  June 5, 2002
                  11296 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: September 21, 2005, 11:44 am - IP Logged

                  I'll let all of you laugh at me. I have Hillary as a US Senator!