Alaskans could be betting on a new state lottery soon after the upcoming legislative session ends next spring. On Monday, several members of the state house and senate spoke to business leaders about the upcoming session, and gambling, at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Several lawmakers are betting that if new forms of gambling are created, the additional revenue will help bridge the state's fiscal gap. However, many lawmakers including Governor Frank Murkowski are opposed to expanding gambling in Alaska because of the potential for social harm. One form of gambling that both democrats and republicans say could pass, is a state lottery.
"It may be the one thing that people can get behind and do, something that would raise a little bit of money and is a step in the right direction," says Democratic State Senator Hollis French. French is a staunch opponent of video poker and casinos, but says he may vote for a state lottery.
Estimates show that if Alaska were to join the Powerball Lottery, an association of 26 state lotteries, it could earn about six million dollars per year. The latest estimates show Alaska's fiscal gap in FY 2005 will be around 900 million dollars.
The legislative session starts January 12th.