Lottery should be about helping New Mexico’s students

February 11, 2019

I support the opinion of Milan Simonich in his Ringside Seat column (“Lottery scholarship is under siege again,” Jan. 28). I play the New Mexico lottery on a regular basis, but I don’t play expecting to win millions of dollars. I play because I want to believe my contribution goes toward helping New Mexico’s children to be able to attain a college degree.

In a state where too many families seem to be getting by on food stamps and Medicaid, every opportunity should be afforded to a child to be able to realize their highest educational potential. The future is going to require at least a four-year college degree for much employment. I don’t want New Mexico’s children to lose out just because someone thinks by tossing out the required minimum reserve, more lottery tickets will be sold.

Yes, it might sell more tickets, but at whose expense? A great number of people who purchase lottery tickets are those who really can’t afford them. Why add to the pile just to encourage those people to spend more money than they have on a dream they will never realize.

Lightning would have to hit them two times within a few minutes to even stand a chance of winning a major prize. I don’t play to win. I play to lend my support to the scholarship fund. Any amount I win (my highest win — $200 one time in the last 15 years I have lived in New Mexico) I put right back into the lottery, which amounts to simply returning it the source. I also don’t stand outside in a thunderstorm waiting to be hit by lightning twice in a few minutes.

By passing any law that allows the lottery to have no required set reserve for annual scholarships is simply a way to allow it to become nothing but another business operation with an eye on profit. Such a bill would take the original reason the lottery was created and toss it out the window. I am not sure I would want to continue playing the lottery knowing all I was doing was helping the lottery make a “profit.” No government agency should be in the business of “making a profit.”

I would encourage the state Legislature to shelve any bill which doesn’t require the lottery to have a certain reserve annual amount to pay out in scholarships. Don’t make the mistake of ruining a chance at a four-year college education for New Mexico’s children.

Thomas Nichols lives in Santa Fe.

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