The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 December 2002

Wanna bet?

After that West Virginia chap picked up some spare change in the Powerball game this month, a small circle of Sooners started wondering out loud just why it is that Oklahoma doesn't have a lottery of its own. The short answer is simple: the last time it was put to a vote of the people, it lost, and Brad Henry, then a state senator, tried but failed to get a new initiative on the ballot this year.

In 2003, though, Brad Henry is the governor, and will have more of a bully pulpit to push for the numbers game. But there's yet another sticky wicket: should the state enact a lottery, the door will be opened for lotteries to be operated by Native American tribes in the state.

Tribal lotteries could theoretically put a serious dent into a state-run game, since they won't have receipts earmarked for state purposes and won't pay state taxes, which means that they could offer bigger jackpots, which will attract money that might otherwise have gone to the state lotto. Other forms of tribal gaming exist in the state already and are largely flourishing, though there's nothing here to compare with, say, Foxwoods.

But would the state's forty or so tribes strike out on their own, or band together to produce one really big game? A lot of questions are out there, and the answers seem a long way off.

Posted at 9:37 AM to Soonerland