Gambling on Education

The Lottery Scholarship to be Funded by Increased Gambling

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New Mexico’s Legislative Lottery Scholarship encourages New Mexico high school graduates and New Mexico General Education Diploma holders to enroll full-time and complete a two or four year degree at a New Mexico institution. The scholarship provides financial support by paying for a portion of college tuition for students who meet the eligibility requirements. Four-year higher education rely on the Legislative Lottery Scholarship because they are not included in the second year of the Opportunity Scholarship, which provides students in the healthcare and education fields with tuition and fee assistance in a two-year program. Now that universities are raising their tuition prices, the value of the Lottery scholarship has decreased. The scholarship once covered all of a student’s tuition costs, but now only covers around 60%.

House Bill 101 aims to fix that issue. The bill was introduced by Representatives Raymundo Lara and Phelps Anderson, and sponsored by Randall T. Pettigrew and Steven P. Neville. The bill proposes the legalization of table games (casino style gambling) as well as online and retail sports betting at New Mexico’s race track casinos. By legalizing table games at horse racing track casinos, an estimate of $40 million in tax revenue per year is expected. Out of that $40 million, $10 million is expected to be distributed to the scholarship fund. The remainder will go to the state’s general operating funds.

Critics of the bill argue that it is a backdoor way to legalizing more gambling in New Mexico, and will inevitably lead to more problems associated with gambling.

People in support of the bill say that it is a simple decision: “Do we support our kids in pursuing their dreams in college, or not?” People against the bill say that it will simply cause more gambling addiction, homelessness, suicides, and broken homes, saying, It’s time for the New Mexico government to get out of the predatory gambling racket.”