NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Even though the odds of winning are slim, many take a gamble at winning the state’s lottery. A bipartisan bill introduced in the legislature would take away the lottery entirely.
Each year, the New Mexico lottery gives a percentage to scholarships, funding college tuition for New Mexicans. According to the lawmakers, students will still get that money without relying on gambling.
“The lottery is obviously gambling. It’s detrimental to the pocketbooks of New Mexicans. It’s not a particularly good investment for the state,” said Democrat Rep. Matthew McQueen of Sandoval and Santa Fe County. “Lottery players lose at least half of their money off the top because only half goes to prizes. That’s assuming you win. The state only gets a small share of the revenue that’s made anyway.”
Rep. Jason Harper (R-Sandoval) and Rep. McQueen proposed House Bill 369. It would repeal legislation allowing lottery in our state. Meaning, if passed, there will no longer be lottery ticket sales in stores or gas stations. Rep. McQueen mentioned the lottery hurts the most vulnerable New Mexicans.
“Research shows that lower income folks spend a much higher percentage of their income on lottery tickets. Maybe if you’re making a lot more money, you can afford to buy a lottery ticket now and then. I think the lower income people are actually buying more tickets,” said Rep. McQueen.
Each year, 30% of the lottery’s revenue goes into a statewide scholarship fund. This bill proposes pulling that money from the state’s general fund instead. According to the bill, the fund would maintain an annual amount of $2 million.
The idea is getting pushback from the New Mexico Lottery Association. In a statement, they argued their products help students, offer responsible entertainment, and boost business for retailers.
McQueen added he has gotten a lot of support from others in the house. The bill will be heard in its first committee Friday morning.