SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It’s not a lottery, but you could call it a “shottery.” The state of Utah is considering a sweepstakes-style cash giveaway to some lucky recipients of the Covid-19 vaccine.
It would be an unprecedented move in a state that prohibits lotteries and all forms of gambling, but Governor Spencer Cox says it’s a very real possibility as part of the effort to get more Utahns immunized against the virus.
It’s an idea that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced to his state Wednesday: five weekly drawings for vaccinated Ohioans 18 and over.
“The winner each Wednesday will receive $1 million,” Gov. DeWine said.
For vaccinated kids 17 and under, Ohio is giving away five full college scholarships, so could Utah follow suit?
“This is something I’m very interested in,” Gov. Cox said Thursday at his weekly Covid-19 briefing. “We actually had several conversations prior Ohio’s announcement yesterday about ways we could incentivize people to do that. This is one of the ideas that was floated out there. Now I recognize that we don’t have raffles or gambling in the state of Utah, and I want to be very clear that this is not that….People aren’t paying into it. It’s not a lottery, as I’ve often said that the lotteries are taxes on people who are bad at math. That is not this.”
Cox did not mention any specific dollar amounts, but indicated the economic benefit would outweigh the expenditure.
“It’s something that I support,” he said. “We’re having our legal teams look at it. We’ll be meeting with the legislature to get their buy-in. Obviously, they would have to appropriate the funds for this, but there is no amount of money that is too much to help us get another 5% or 10% of people vaccinated.”
Thursday in West Valley City, opinions were mixed.
“I think it’s kind of a great incentive to get a lot of people who were kind of on the fence about getting vaccinated, that they actually will get vaccinated,” Tina Dickerson said.
“The idea is kind of wacky if you ask me really,” Troy Bowers said. “Getting all that money out to just like one person, and there’s so many other individuals all those other people. That’s out there quite a bit.”
Cox said if it happens, all vaccinated adults would be eligible to win, even if they got immunized weeks or months ago.