Raleigh, N.C. — A bill filed Tuesday by a bipartisan group of lawmakers would place restrictions on lottery advertising and remove the word "education" from the state gambling enterprise's formal title.
Both Democrats and Republicans sponsored House Bill 156,also known as the Honest Lottery Act, including House Speaker Pro Tem Paul "Skip" Stam and Minority Leader Larry Hall.
The bill does not contain a previously discussed provision that would prohibit those on public assistance from buying lottery tickets.
However, it would block the lottery from advertising at high school and college athletic events.
"We would never, ever do high schools," said Alice Garland, director of the state lottery.
For a time, lottery advertising was banned from University of North Carolina campuses when Erskine Bowles was president of the university system. Current UNC President Tom Ross reversed that policy, and there is lottery advertising on a handful of campuses' sporting events now, including UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.
"We don't sell tickets there," Garland said, noting that the advertising is aimed at letting people know about the portion of lottery proceeds that go to support university scholarships.
"We think that's a very good message for a college venue," she said.
As for the part of the measure that would removed the word education form the title of the North Carolina Education Lottery, Garland called that "a mistake."
"I think it plays right into the public impression that the legislature is spending the money on something other than education," she said.
Although the state lottery law earmarks lottery revenue for education programs, lawmakers have the option to move that money around. At least once in recent memory, lottery proceeds have been shifted to help cover Medicaid expenses.
"Why should you use a worthy cause to sell what is a fool's errand," Stam, R-Wake, said before this year's legislative session started. Using "education" in the name is a "marketing tool," he said, something that allows players to feel better about their spending.
Other parts of the bill would require that lottery advertising state the odds of winning in different ways. For example, the lottery could not just disclose the overall odds of winning but would have to show the odds of winning the biggest prize. The bill also calls for UNC to study "lottery participation as to frequency, amounts spent, family income levels, and other socioeconomic factors."