Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Balls vs. bytes

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the whole lottery effort crash and burn. Government, which is supposed to protect citizens, shouldn't be in the business of taking advantage of their foolishness. But if we're going to have a lottery it has to have the confidence of the players. It has to be as honest as a fool's game can be. Computers mess up lives on a regular basis. Everyone has a story about how a computer mistake has negatively impacted their life. So using one for the lottery already starts with that prejudice in people's minds.

Lottery President Rebecca Pauls Hargrove objects to going back to using the balls, which created no controversy and is still being used by the Power Ball people. She says using computer generated drawings will free up some $5 million in drawing production costs. Money, she says, that could be spent on students instead.

The fact is the lottery has a surplus of funds just sitting around. So much so there was legislation last year to make the lottery a lending institution for school systems wanting to make capital improvements. The legislature ensures there is a surplus by keeping those scholarships on the low end so that other pet projects (pre-K for one) can be funded.

If she really wants to free up money for students, she should consider starting with the administrator's salary. Don't let those billboards (now there's an expense that could be eliminated) touting the amount of money that has gone to students fool you. It's only 1/3rd of the revenues. See 2/3rds For the Students

In talks of renewing the contract, the media markets in Nashville and Memphis would not enter into a contract extension under the current terms, Hargrove said, and wanted more. She said they were no longer willing to pay for production costs, and Memphis television stations wanted $12,000 a week to air the drawings. Striking a new television contract for the ball drawing would cost an estimated $4.8 million annually, about a $4.5 million increase, lotto figures show. City Paper

And so now, having pandered to the gambling industry to bring the lottery to Tennessee through all their positive lottery puff pieces before the vote to enact it, television stations are now looking for their cut of this very lucrative business. It's payback time.

No comments: