50 Years Ago This Week, Michigan Voters Legalized The Lottery
The Sixties were a time of social revolution and change, and the Seventies picked up where the 60's left off. And Michiganders said, why can't we have a state lottery like other states?
So fifty years ago this week, on May 16th, 1972, Michigan voters approved a state constitutional amendment legalizing the Michigan Lottery. What's interesting is Michigan's four constitutions prior to this amendment all prohibited lotteries; the most recent less than a decade earlier, in 1963.
As always, it was about money. Politicians could see dollar signs in their eyes, and it sure beat voting for a tax increase. Michigan Democratic Senator John Bowman said voters were legalizing what people were already doing privately, and Grand Rapids Republican, Leander Robert Vander Laan put it even more succinctly: "The sooner it's put into operation, the sooner the state can begin collecting money."
Michigan's role model was New Jersey. State officials anticipated the lottery being legalized and were working with New Jersey officials preparing themselves for what was to come. New Jersey was already selling lottery tickets in grocery stores and transportation depots through vending machines. Now, fifty years later, we have casinos, legalized marijuana and legalized online sports betting. Some say we don't have a road to perdition, we have a multi-highway.
Oh, the women in front of the lottery balls, that's Aggie Usedly. She was "the lottery woman" on the nightly drawings on TV. Usedly died in 2019 at the age of 79.
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