Today, another wave of Alabama gamblers will begin moving east, to the Georgia state line, where they will arrive at various Lotto outlets to buy tickets for the $400 million jackpot. Many will go no farther than Newborn’s Truck Stop off Interstate 20, which advertises itself as “Georgia No. 1 Lottery Seller.”
Alabamians have made it so.
Today’s drawing is the Powerball, the biggest of them all, but according to Newborn employees, even when the regular Lotto jackpot begins to climb into the multi-million range, the lines at the registers are out the door.
The same happens at lottery outlets just over the Florida and Tennessee state lines from Alabama.
We might not have state-sanctioned and state-regulated gambling, but thanks to our neighbors, gambling is within reach.
State lotteries exist to the north, south and east. Meanwhile for Alabamians to the west, are Mississippi’s casinos. Even people in the central part of our state have Indian casinos at Wetumpka and Atmore – if the attorney general fails to close them down.
The point is obvious. Alabamians gamble and many will drive a long way to do it. For years, since the days of Don Siegelman’s ill-fated lottery-for-education plan, this page has asked why Alabama does not legalize and regulate gambling and dedicate the money to education or other worthwhile undertakings instead of seeing that money go into other states’ coffers.
If Alabama’s prohibition actually worked — if it stopped Alabamians from gambling — there might be reason to continue this opposition.
However, the evidence makes it clear that short of setting up roadblocks at the state line to stop people from going where the gambling is, closing down every casino on Indian land within the state, ferreting out every “numbers” operation and finding a way to regulate Internet betting (the NSA might help with this), anti-gambling advocates are fighting a losing battle.
And Alabama is losing with them.