A Texas House Committee appointed by Speaker Joe Straus (R-Alamo Heights) will look into the possibility of abolishing the Texas State Lottery, News Radio 1200 WOAI has learned.
The Committee is headed by Rep. John Kuempel (R-Seguin) and is under orders to make its recommendations by December 1st so they can be considered by the session that begins in January.
"Committee members will study the potential impact of eliminating the state lottery," reads the charge to the committee obtained by Newsradio 1200 WOAI.
The Lottery, which was approved by the Legislature in 1991, has never been popular with several constituencies.
Many Democrats, especially urban Democrats, have long claimed that the Lottery exploits the poor, a position which evangelical Christians, like Rob Kohler, a consultant with the Christian Life Commission, a unit of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, also support.
He says while big Lotto Texas prizes, and the national lotteries like PowerBall and MegaMillions get all the attention, 80% of Texas Lottery sales are scratch off tickets, which are overwhelmingly purchased by low income Texans, many of whom are already receiving state benefits.
"These are the same folks that we are trying to help through food stamps, SNAP, and temporary assistance in other forms," Kohler said.
And add to that mix the Tea Party and movement conservatives, who believe that government should focus on 'essential duties,' one of which is not operating a numbers game.
But one of the biggest problems with the Texas Lottery, Kohler says, is that it has failed in the main purpose lottery supporters stressed when voters approved the game...that it would raise money for education.
"I think folks in the Legislature are tired of being asked, what about the lottery dollars," he asked. "Wasn't that supposed to solve our education funding problems."
Among the issues that the committee will look into...what sort of economic impact, if any, eliminating the lottery would have on the state's economy, including whether taxes would have to be raised to cover lost revenue. Also to be considered, whether the citizens would have to vote on abolishing the lottery, and whether the state could continue to participate in the high profile national lottery games like PowerBall if the Lottery Commission were abolished.
Until the Lottery Commission was created, the State comptroller's office managed the lottery.
Kohler calls the Lottery 'a trick.'
"We don't need these dollars that are coming from folks that we are already trying to help."