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Governor lukewarm on newly passed Wyoming lottery bill

Feb 28, 2013 - McClatchy Newspapers

CHEYENNE -- A bill to bring a lottery to Wyoming has won final approval from the Legislature.

The state House and Senate both voted Tuesday to accept an agreement to split the potential revenues between local governments and K-12 schools.

The lottery proposal, House Bill 77, now moves to Gov. Matt Mead. He previously has expressed mixed feeling about the bill in public comments.

The fate of the bill appeared to be in doubt last week when the Senate amended it to earmark the revenue for the permanent land fund's common school account.

The House then voted on Monday to reject the Senate's version. Representatives fought for their original plan to send the money to local governments.

A conference committee met later Monday and devised a plan. It designates the first $6 million in annual revenue to cities, towns and counties. Any more proceeds would flow into the savings account for the schools.

The House voted 33-25 and the Senate 17-13 on Tuesday to accept the agreement.

The bill calls for the creation a quasi-governmental, self-funded corporation that could create a state lottery or join multi-state games, such as Powerball.

Unlike past years' attempts to bring a lottery to the state, the bill does not permit scratch-off or other instant-win games.

State officials project that a multi-state lottery could bring in between $5 million and $9 million a year for the state.

Rep. Dave Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, who sponsored the bill, said the compromise includes a provision to revisit in six years where the revenue should go.

"It's great because we are in that situation where we are not sure how much money is going to come into this," he said. "It is going to take at least a couple of years to get the corporation up and going to even get the funding stream going into it."

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