ABILENE, Texas - The Texas House of Representatives voted to do away with the Texas Lottery Tuesday – only to reconsider after a short break.
House Bill 2197 would continue the functions of the Texas Lottery Commission.
The commission is a state agency that comes up for a sunset review every 12 years – and often this is fairly routine. The Sunset Law allows legislators to review the activities and need for state commissions every so often, but no one expected what happened Tuesday.
In a surprise move, the Texas House of Representatives voted to discontinue the Texas Lottery Commission. That would mean ending the lottery and charity bingo, creating a $2 billion hole in the state budget.
After a break, the House decided to scratch that and vote again. The second time around the bill passed, but lawmakers said it's not over yet.
"I'd be happy to see a repeal bill that also had an appropriation assigned to it to show how we're going to fill the bucket with $2.2 billion after we had emptied it," said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas.
The majority of revenue from the lottery is paid out to winners and retailers. About $2 billion goes towards public education.
State Rep. Susan King said she originally voted against continuing the lottery commission because it wasn't meeting revenue needs for education. She said she later reconsidered because the need for funding education is so great right now and the state budget is already stretched thin to cover the need for water projects.
On Tuesday, lottery players said they've have had various experiences, all while hoping to snag that lucky ticket
Thomas Neal said he played the lottery, "A couple dozen times and I've only won like five bucks."
Troy Schroedter said he plays more often.
"Wednesdays, Tuesdays, and Fridays and about six bucks a week but I don't know it's hit or miss sometimes," he said.
For a brief time Tuesday, some feared they might soon have to give up their gambling ways… not a popular idea.
"I think it's a good thing if people don't do it in excess," said Schroedter.
"The fact that it goes towards education, that's good. But there's a lot of people that waste a lot of money on it," Neal said.