Raleigh, N.C. — Senate leaders and lottery officials spent roughly an hour Wednesday morning trashing a House budget proposal that would both require the state gambling enterprise to produce more money and add restrictions on advertising.
"The author of this language wants to see the lottery fail and wants to put the lottery out of business," lottery director Alice Garland told the Senate Appropriations Committee.
House budget writers anticipated getting $106 million more in lottery proceeds next year, but a provision pushed by Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, would block the lottery from advertising during college sporting events. Stam's amendment also would require that the lottery display the prizes for jackpot games in two different ways.
Lottery winners can choose to take their winnings paid out over 20 years or in a lump sum. In most venues, the lottery advertises both numbers. But it advertises only the higher, long-term payout number on billboards and in electronic in-store displays. Stam's amendment would require both numbers be advertised everywhere.
"It would be a tremendous expense and create a great deal of confusion," Garland said of the new sign requirements.
North Carolina, she said, would be the only state in the country with such a requirement, she said, and displaying the two different numbers could drive down sales.
Senators, who are not kindly disposed toward the House budget overall, blasted the lottery provision.
Noting that the House relies on the lottery funding for teacher raises, a high-priority item, Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, said it made little sense to curtail how the lottery raises money.
"We need these silly restrictions off," he said.
Both the House and Senate have passed versions of the budget. They are now negotiating a final spending plan to send to the governor.
Noting that the lottery restrictions had started life as House Bill 156 before finding its way into the House budget, Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, indicated the Senate would not agree to a final budget that included the measure.
"I don't want us to spend a whole lot of time worrying about HB 156, no matter where it is or where it was put," Apodaca said.