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Gambling Comes to Tennessee as It Approves a State Lottery

June 12, 2003|From Associated Press

NASHVILLE — The governor on Wednesday approved a lottery to fund college scholarships as Tennessee joined 47 other states with some form of legalized gambling.

Only Utah and Hawaii do not permit any form of gambling.

Gov. Phil Bredesen signed the legislation after months of debate in the General Assembly and a statewide referendum in November.

"It's like the cherry on top of a hot fudge sundae," said state Sen. Steve Cohen, who campaigned almost two decades for the lottery. "It's satisfying because of the struggle it's been ... and the forthcoming benefits to students."

The first lottery tickers are expected to be sold the first quarter of next year, with students using the first scholarships in the fall next year, officials said.

In its first year, the lottery is expected to bring in at least $200 million after prizes and expenses. Of that, about $175 million will fund scholarships, with the rest going toward pre-kindergarten programs and K-12 school construction.

Students must have a 3.0 grade-point average in high school or a 19 ACT score to qualify for awards ranging up to $3,000.

Thirty-eight other states and the District of Columbia sell lottery tickets.

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