CHEYENNE - A proposed state lottery modeled after the one in Georgia is headed for introduction in the Legislature.
Under the proposal, money raised by the lottery would go into the Hathaway Scholarship fund. The scholarship enables Wyoming students with good grades to attend the University of Wyoming and the state's community colleges at sharply reduced tuition rates.
The lottery would generate an estimated $11 million a year for the Hathaway fund.
The bill's main sponsors are Reps. George Bagby, D-Rawlins, and Sue Wallis, R-Recluse. Bagby and Wallis were signing up more sponsors before Tuesday's opening of the legislative session.
Wallis and Bagby said the Hathaway scholarship fund is running short this year and education officials may have to dip into reserves.
"Every time you buy a lottery ticket, you're not only taking a chance of winning, yourself, you're also helping the Hathaway scholarship," Bagby said.
Under the bill, a four-member board appointed by the governor would oversee a business corporation that would run the lottery. The lottery wouldn't require any state funding.
"This is what I love about this bill," Wallis said. "Zero state appropriation. Doesn't raise taxes. We're not taking money away from anybody to do this."
The bill authorizes Wyoming-specific lottery games and the state's involvement in any multistate lotteries. The bill also would allow visual lottery terminals at Wyoming Downs, a horse track in Evanston, which would put up a $1 million application fee to help the corporation get started.
"That exact form of video lottery can only be at the racetrack," Wallis said.
Lottery bills have been introduced in the Legislature several times without success. Previous bills failed primarily because of the cost to the state and because a lottery wouldn't generate a lot of revenue because of Wyoming's small population.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal, during the Democratic legislators' caucus Sunday, reiterated his opposition to gambling bills. He said he would sign a "clean" bill to join the multistate Powerball lottery, however.
Currently, Wyoming residents must leave the state to buy lottery tickets.