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Alaska governor proposes lottery amid budget woes

Feb 14, 2020, 12:34 pm

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AlaskaAlaska: Alaska governor proposes lottery amid budget woesRating:

JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska, long-reliant on oil and in search of options amid a persistent budget deficit, may turn to the lottery for help.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy introduced legislation Wednesday proposing a lottery. His administration said it could serve as part of his goal of providing greater fiscal stability.

It comes on the heels of deep budget cuts Dunleavy proposed last year that were met with public outcry. That anger helped fuel a recall effort against him now tied up in the courts. His budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year backs off deep cuts but would draw heavily from savings, which legislative leaders say is unacceptable. Lawmakers blew through billions of dollars in savings struggling with how to address a deficit that has persisted amid low to middling oil prices.

Estimates for what a lottery might generate vary with the kind of games that would be allowed, and it would take time for a lottery corporation to be set up. The administration estimates draw games only could generate around $5 million to $10 million a year for the state. It expects that number would grow if additional games were added.

Response from lawmakers has been mixed. Some see the potential new revenue as a plus, while others are critical of what they see as a lack of an overall fiscal plan from Dunleavy.

"It still doesn't solve Alaska's fundamental fiscal problem," Juneau Democratic Sen. Jesse Kiehl recently told reporters. Kiehl has advocated for changes to the state's oil tax structure and a broad-based tax, like an income tax. The state has no personal income or statewide sales taxes.

Alaska is one of five states that doesn't have a lottery, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. Versions of a state lottery have been proposed in the past but stalled. Dunleavy and House Majority Leader Steve Thompson have each proposed a lottery bill this year.

Dunleavy's bill would establish a lottery corporation that would be able to conduct any kind of lottery game, including in-state and multi-state draw games, such as Powerball or Mega Millions, scratch-offs, sports betting, and games through use of any media, including electronic terminals, according to the administration.

The bill from Thompson, a Fairbanks Republican, would allow for a state lottery and participation in a multi-state lottery but not allow a lottery board to authorize such things as scratch-off ticket games or video lottery terminals.

Dunleavy's bill proposes money in a lottery profits fund be aimed at an education endowment fund and programs to address domestic violence, drug abuse, senior services, foster care and homelessness.

The state currently allows charitable gaming, including bingo games.

Thompson said he's glad Dunleavy has shown interest in a lottery bill. "Ten million bucks, it's not chicken feed, that's for sure," Thompson said Wednesday. "It isn't going to solve the problems, but every little bit helps."

Other ideas being floated to help address the budget include an increase in the motor fuel tax and a $30 a year tax on wages. Deputy Revenue Commissioner Mike Barnhill has said the department is interested in future discussions with lawmakers on sales taxes.

A proposed ballot initiative would overhaul the state's oil-tax structure.

The state last month held its first raffle to support education. Alaskans could enter using $100 increments of their permanent fund dividends. Prize money for the four winning entrants totaled about $32,600.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, an independent from Dillingham, recently told reporters he thinks the political environment this session would "allow us to nibble around the edges on the new revenue issue," considering smaller proposals like the motor fuel tax increase or a lottery.

House Finance Committee co-Chair Neal Foster, a Nome Democrat, said he didn't think there would be support for a more extensive tax debate this year. Dunleavy has proposed a constitutional amendment that would let voters weigh in on new or increased taxes approved by lawmakers.


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5 comments. Last comment 7 months ago by Coin Toss.
Page 1 of 1
s5thomps's avatar - Lottery-033.jpg
Hard Luck, Ak
United States
Member #23471
October 13, 2005
354 Posts


"We make a living by what you get, You make a LIFE by what you give!"

                                                               Sir Winston ChurchillSun Smiley

    Raven62's avatar - binary
    New Jersey
    United States
    Member #17842
    June 28, 2005
    130284 Posts

    Alaska has bigger problems than forming a State Lottery will fix:

    For the past five years, Alaska has lost more people than it has gained residents, representing the longest streak of population loss since World War II, when researchers first started tracking the yearly numbers. In all, nearly 29,000 more people have moved out of Alaska since 2012 than have moved into the state. The state had a net loss of nearly 9,000 residents in 2017, its largest population loss since 1988, the report from Alaska's Department of Labor and Workforce Development.


    A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

    Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

    Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

      Chasing $ Millions.
      White Shores- California
      United States
      Member #136473
      December 12, 2012
      6313 Posts

      DUE TIME!!

      How so? The article says lawmakers blew through billions of dollars, what makes one think their habits have not changed? Plus, with a population of under 800,000- one wonders why they think a lottery is going to solve their problems?  Fiscally responsible, they are not.

      One thing l know, they have lots of drunks up there * Source? Alaskan Police on TV.

       * Voice of Reason *   


      People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

        Northern Beaches
        Member #187037
        January 9, 2018
        125 Posts

        Maybe the answer is to sell Alaska to Canada!

          Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
          Zeta Reticuli Star System
          United States
          Member #30469
          January 17, 2006
          11498 Posts

          How so? The article says lawmakers blew through billions of dollars, what makes one think their habits have not changed? Plus, with a population of under 800,000- one wonders why they think a lottery is going to solve their problems?  Fiscally responsible, they are not.

          One thing l know, they have lots of drunks up there * Source? Alaskan Police on TV.

          Good points noise-gate, especially about the population.

          Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 


          There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.