Lottery foes in South Carolina take heart in Alabama 'no' vote


MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Gambling opponents can cross Alabama off their list of lottery-friendly states. South Carolina is next on their list.

Despite more than a year of campaigning, Alabama Gov. Donald Siegelman could not persuade voters to approve Tuesday a Georgia-style education lottery that he had projected would raise $150 million a year.

"I have no plans to come back with a lottery proposal," Siegelman said during a news conference yesterday. "Never say never, but I have no plans. I think the people spoke pretty clearly."

Next year, South Carolina voters will consider a similar referendum. Anti-gambling forces hope that voters will take a cue from Alabama, where the issue lost in 47 of 66 counties.

"It tells me people in the Deep South are taking a long, hard look at gambling and not just stepping in line to do what everyone else is doing," said Scott Vaughan, director of marketing for the state Baptist Convention in South Carolina. The group represents 750,000 members in 2,000 churches.

Alabama's Baptist Convention united clergy from all religions to kill a lottery proposal that looked like a sure bet just two months ago. Despite opinion polls throughout the decade that gauged statewide lottery approval at nearly 65 percent, more than 54 percent of the voters Tuesday rejected the proposal.

Current polls show lottery support in South Carolina at 50 percent.

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