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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — VictoryLand's Milton McGregor made a donation to an Alabama school district for students lacking insurance allowing them to take home iPads.
The casino owner announced this week that he donated $25,750 to cover the $50 insurance payments for 515 students at three Macon County schools, the Montgomery Advertiser (http://on.mgmadv.com/1My8m6v) reported. He felt compelled to help after hearing about students' inability to pay insurance costs for iPads following Apple's donation to the three cash-strapped schools this summer.
Apple's grant provided iPads for students at BTW-Tuskegee, Tuskegee Public Elementary and Notasulga High School. The grant was part of its ConnectED grants that coincided with the White House's ConnectED initiative.
The grant also aided Macon County in updating its internet infrastructure within the school buildings and provided professional development for employees.
"I would have paid it sooner had we known about it," McGregor said. "The timing was good for us, because of where we are getting ready to open. It allowed us to be able to help out with the schools and things like this again."
McGregor said VictoryLand has donated more than $50 million over the last 30 years to Macon County schools, in addition to the tax money that has been generated by the casino and dog track that has gone into the state's education trust fund.
That money essentially stopped flowing to the schools in 2012, after a series of raids by the governor's task force and later the attorney general's office forced VictoryLand to close its electronic bingo casino.
"That hurt us very badly," Macon County superintendent Jacqueline Brooks said. "People should just stop and think about this. We had a quadruple whammy. The economy went in the tank. There was sequestration that took 1 percent of our federal funds. VictoryLand closed. And our ad valorem taxes took a nosedive. And we were already one of the poorest districts in the state.
"I have friends in education who ask me all the time how we're even still open."
McGregor said that after his long legal battles to reopen, the ideas of fairness and a level playing field are very sensitive topics for him.
"No one knows better the value of a level playing field than VictoryLand," McGregor said. "It's hard enough as it is for these kids. We should do all we can to level the field and make things fair. I hope this donation does that."
Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com
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