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Some East Tennesseans oppose state lottery

12:39 AM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
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Not all East Tennesseans were excited to participate in the nationwide Powerball drawing Wednesday night.

Since state voters approved the decision to unveil lottery games in Tennessee in 2004, some groups have remained opposed to it citing moral concerns.

Dr. William Shiell, pastor at First Baptist Church in downtown Knoxville, told 10News he dislikes the lottery because he believes it preys on the state's impoverished.

"The lottery only further complicates matters and keeps the poorest of the poor, poor," he said.

Shiell, who co-edited a book entitled "The Gambling Culture", also said the state as a whole has become "addicted" to the industry.

"Any kind of gambling, which includes state lotteries, is not a proper use of the resources God has given us," he said.

But, the state contends the lottery is creating positive benefits for Tennesseans.

Kym Gerlock, spokesperson for the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, said lotto games have generated more than $2.4 billion for schools and scholarships in Tennessee.

"Our mission is to raise dollars for specific education programs," Gerlock said. "Fifty-eight percent of the voters in Tennessee approved the vote to create a lottery."

But, Shiell says in the end, he does not believe that impoverished students are benefiting from the money their families spend on lottery tickets.

With that taken into account, he said he does believe people are free to make whatever choice they want to on the issue.

"The question that we should be asking is not whether or not they [Tennesseans] should choose to do it [play the lottery], but whether we as a society, as a state government should be encouraging people to," Shiell said.

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