Vending machine sales of lottery tickets in Kansas are being blocked by conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who vetoed a bill that had gained strong bipartisan support and declared that an expansion of state-run gambling would hurt the poor the most.
Lottery officials had worked for months to persuade lawmakers to pass a bill authorizing vending machine sales, arguing that it could boost annual sales by as much as $30 million and generate between $8 million and $10 million in revenues to the state. Legislators agreed to dedicate much of the state's proceeds to community mental health services.
Most states, including Missouri, allow vending machine sales of lottery tickets. Kansas has resisted, even after legalizing state-owned casinos under its lottery.
Brownback has been wary of expanding legalized gambling since taking office in January 2011, and his veto message on the lottery bill was a throwback to decades-earlier debates on legalizing the lottery and other forms of gambling.
The governor said the lottery "has a disproportionately negative effect on low income Kansans" and the state's goal is to help the poor "find a path to self-reliance and independence through education, work and savings." He said because only the state legally can operate a lottery, it "has a higher standard of care" in running one.
"The state should not encourage behavior that undermines our efforts to encourage upward economic mobility and long term financial security and thrift," Brownback wrote.
Lottery Director Terry Presta, a former Kansas House member and a Brownback appointee, said his agency was disappointed but respected the governor's decision.
"We will continue to try to create more fun and excitement for players using all of the tools available to us," Presta said in a statement.
Brownback said on Friday that he and lottery officials had conversations in which he told them he wasn't a fan of expanding gambling, but he added that he was willing to study legislation sent to him because, "that's normal process for me."
Legislators approved the bill earlier this month on votes of 98-19 in the House and 34-4 in the Senate, easily surpassing the two-thirds majorities necessary to override a veto.
But House Majority Leader Don Hineman, a Dighton Republican, said he's not sure how much interest lawmakers would have in attempting an override. The Legislature's only remaining scheduled business this year is a brief ceremony June 26 to formally end its annual session.