Lottery looks likely in Tennessee
November 8 2002 by Lonnie Wilkey & Linda Lawson , Baptist Press

Lottery looks likely in Tennessee | Friday, Nov 8, 2002

Friday, Nov 8, 2002

Lottery looks likely in Tennessee

By Lonnie Wilkey & Linda Lawson Baptist Press

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - The future of a state lottery in Tennessee now rests in the hands of the state's legislators.

The lawmakers were given that responsibility on Nov. 5 when 893,646 Tennesseans (58 percent) cast ballots to remove the lottery prohibition from the state constitution, compared to 658,543 (42 percent) who voted to keep the state gambling free.

The lottery actually won, however, by only 59,066 votes. Efforts to amend the state constitution require 50 percent plus one of the votes cast in the governor's race. According to unofficial election results in the Nov. 6 issue of The Tennessean, the total votes cast in the governor's race numbered 1,669,158. The referendum needed 834,580 votes to be approved. Only 1,552,189 votes were cast on the lottery referendum, meaning that 116,969 people who voted for a governor chose not to take a stand on the lottery issue.

Of the state's 95 counties, the lottery was defeated in 14 of them.

As expected, the lottery carried all of the major metropolitan areas in the state by a wide margin.

The change in the state constitution will authorize, but not require, the General Assembly to establish a lottery.

Under the amended constitution, the lottery would pay for college scholarships for qualifying students, with any remaining revenues going to construction and technology projects in K-12 schools and to early-learning and after-school programs.

Several Tennessee Baptists active in the effort to keep the state as one of only three without any form of legalized gambling expressed disappointment over the passage of the lottery.

Larry Murphy, director of missions for Madison-Chester and Crockett Baptist associations, serves in an area where lottery opponents won the vote.

"I'm heavily disappointed. However, I am proud that a majority of the votes against the lottery came from west Tennessee," he said.

And despite the defeat, Murphy reminded Tennessee Baptists that "our God is still in control. We've made an effort to educate the public about the impact of a lottery on the poor. Now, if a lottery is created, we must be responsive in helping those who are negatively impacted."

Nashville pastor Paul Durham of Radnor Baptist Church noted that "we lost the battle in getting the votes we needed, but we did not lose the war because we were faithful to the teachings and commands of our Lord, Jesus Christ."

"To this we give Him the praise and the glory," said Durham, who served as treasurer for Gambling Free Tennessee Alliance (GFTA) and chairman of the anti-lottery subcommittee of the Tennessee Baptist Convention executive board.

"We changed the minds of many people, just not enough," Durham said.

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11/8/2002 12:00:00 AM by Lonnie Wilkey & Linda Lawson , Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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