Raleigh, N.C. — The state House on Thursday approved legislation that would require the North Carolina Education Lottery to provide more information to the public about the odds of winning and the present value of jackpots.
House Bill 156, dubbed the "Honest Lottery Act," calls for lottery operators to disclose not only the odds of winning any prize but also the more prohibitive odds of winning the largest possible prize as well as the value of the lowest prize.
The lottery also must disclose the present value of a Mega Millions or Powerball jackpot. The value of such awards that is usually touted on billboards is if the winner takes the prize in partial payments over 20 years, but many people take smaller lump-sum payments.
"We need to make sure people have accurate information when they place their bets," said sponsor Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake.
An ardent lottery opponent, Stam called ads for the state-run numbers game "systematic misrepresentation," saying the Federal Trade Commission would shut the operation down if it had the authority to do so.
"The operation as a whole is a scam," he said.
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, who voted for creating the lottery in 2005, said he co-sponsored Stam's bill because he has become dissatisfied with the lottery being seen as a cure-all for education funding.
"We've fallen prey, to some degree, to using the lottery to now supplant (state funding) and to use the lottery in a way that helps fund the education system while we (lawmakers) abrogate our responsibility to do it the right way," Glazier said.
An amendment Stam proposed Thursday, which was approved, calls for recipients of lottery proceeds to inform the public exactly how much they receive each year and how it was spent.
The bill, which now heads to the Senate after a 99-12 House vote, also would prohibit lottery advertising at high school sporting event and would stop the lottery from publicizing that an accountant was on hand to oversee drawings.
Outside of advertising rules, the bill would prevent the lottery from running any games other than scratch-off tickets or those in which random numbers are drawn. It also would direct the University of North Carolina system to develop lesson plans for public high schools to explain probabilities and odds of lottery winnings.