Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (D) has more than a restrictive antiabortion bill on his desk awaiting action. There's also the decision about allowing a state lottery after nearly 100 years since it was outlawed in shame.
Louisiana legislators gave final approval before they adjourned last week to a constitutional amendment to return a lottery to the state. Voters will decide Oct. 6. But Roemer has threatened to veto the enabling legislation that sets up the Louisiana Lottery Corp., which would run what lawmakers are calling "lotteaux," if anti-corruption measures are not strengthened.
Roemer knows the history of the earlier state lottery.
The notorious Louisiana Lottery, created by carpetbaggers in 1869 for a New York gambling syndicate, was so corrupt that other state governments pushed for changes in postal regulations to keep the lottery from operating by mail.
"The people of all the states are debauched and defrauded . . . by the Louisiana Lottery," President Benjamin Harrison declared to Congress in a special message July 30, 1880. He asked Congress to "purge the mail of all letters, newspapers and circulars relating to the business." Congress did.
In Louisiana, the lottery was shut down in 1894 and has been prohibited by the state constitution since then.
But times have changed -- and Louisiana has an estimated $600 million deficit. Lotteaux backers cite substantial profits made by other states, saying the game would bring Louisiana about $120 million a year.