Having Your Share of the Jackpot

Gambling. It’s a pastime that has withstood the test of time. I recently took a trip to Vegas where I happily squandered my parking money. For centuries now, people across the globe have taken the almighty risk of wagering their money and/or material values in hopes of multiplying on them. From the affluent equestrian wagers of The Kentucky Derby to the neophyte-friendly slot machines of the Vegas Strip, gambling is controversially man’s best friend and it may soon prove to be a friend of Georgia State students.

On April 11th, our Governor, Nathan Deal, signed House Bill 487 into law. In a nutshell, the controversial bill will allow convenient store gambling machines to award Georgia gamblers with lottery tickets, a prize that was previously prohibited. The new bill also places the sole responsibility for regulating these machines in the hands of the Georgia Lottery Corporation. So, what does that little machine in the corner convenient store have to do with you? Everything.

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that the Georgia Lottery is the sole funder of the HOPE scholarship and HB 487 will add much-needed funds to HOPE. In March of 2011, (courtesy of Gov. Deal) the HOPE scholarship payout was decreased, severing payments for books and mandatory fees. Students were distraught (as they should have been). The Governor seems to be redeeming himself with this new bill, but it won’t happen without a fight.

Deal has received a severe backlash from social conservatives and Christian coalitions who feel his “advocacy” of gambling has tarnished our good ol’ southern morals. These “clergymen” fear a widespread distribution of slot machines and ultimately the crumbling of our damned souls. But what they fail to see –or rather turn an eye to –are the needs of students.

While these protestors are holding their pitchforks and torches high, they’ve yet to offer an alternative source of funds for student’s tuition. If lottery tickets won’t pay your tuition, who will? Either you will (out of your pockets) or federal loans will (again, out of your pockets). Yes, there are other scholarships available but the HOPE scholarship is the most inviting scholarship with fewer stipulations. With that being said, why wouldn’t you want to save a dollar on tuition for every time someone hits a triple 7?

As students, we are the keepers of America’s future and the forecast of this future is contingent upon our education. Our leaders should note that their investment in our education is simultaneously an investment in our country and if they want a grand return on their investment they should consider their stance on this issue.