Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Christian Right Draws Line in Sand: No Debit Cards for Lottery Tickets

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 3:11 PM

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State lawmakers are studying how to cut costs in the state’s HOPE lottery scholarship program and thinking about denying grants to thousands of college-bound kids. Here’s a novel idea: To ensure the lottery stays in the black, why not try to increase revenue? One way to do that is to finally let people use bank debit cards to buy tickets.

Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Not in the alternate universe that is the Tennessee legislature. Here, Bible-thumping wingnuts like the Tennessee Eagle Forum’s Bobbie Patray rule with an iron fist, and they are adamantly against any attempt to make it easier to play the lottery.

The special committee studying what to do about the lottery met today and heard from Patray, who laid down the law for legislators in no uncertain terms. (You might recall it was Patray who tried to save humanity in a recent legislative session by pushing a bill to outlaw the forcible implantation of microchips under your skin.)

“If the state is going to continue to encourage people to gamble, it must remain a cash only business,” she told the committee today. “A person with a gambling problem cannot control their spending, and credit and debit cards permit them to spend money they don’t have, spiraling them further into debt.”

OK, for credit cards, we get that argument. But for debit cards? With debit cards, you can spend only your cash on hand in the bank, right? Thirty-four of the 44 states with lotteries allow debit card purchases. In Tennessee, you can walk into one of Bill Haslam’s Pilot truck stops, grab some cash out of the ATM machine and buy lottery tickets with it. Why not let people use their debit cards directly if it will help pay for more college scholarships? Why not? Because Bobbie Patray says so, that’s why. We guess college kids should stop all that dreaming about better lives.

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