Local News

Easley Signs Lottery Bill Into Law

Posted August 31, 2005

— With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Mike Easley signed the hotly debated lottery bill Wednesday, which supporters hope will bring millions of dollars to help with education.

WRAL takes an in-depth look at Tuesday's historical lottery vote and how the new numbers game will have an impact on our state. Watch "The Big Gamble" on the WRAL NewsChannel (cable ch. 256/5.2 over the air) at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday.

Easley has made the lottery a centerpiece of his campaign and his tenure as governor. He calls it a win for at-risk 4-year-olds who need pre-K education, school districts that need money and students who need college scholarships.

Now that the bill, which mentions online and scratch-off games, has become a law, a nine-member lottery commission will be appointed in the next few months to decide what kinds of games will be played. Easley will now name five people to the North Carolina Lottery Commission to oversee the games. In addition, state House and Senate leaders will each appoint two commissioners. The nine-member panel will select an executive director, a staff will be hired and then lottery games would be set up.

Observers believe the lottery commission will look to other states for guidance.

"I would think, instead of reinvent the wheel, they would look at other lotteries that have been established -- find out what's worked, what hasn't worked," said Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank County, who has sponsored 11 lottery bills over the years.

Owens said he predicts it will be about six months before retailers start selling scratch-off tickets and that it could be a year before state residents see other games.

"I would envision that they would have all types of games eventually that bordering states have."

Senate leaders have expressed their intent for North Carolina to eventually join the Powerball lottery.

On Tuesday, the vote was tied 24-24, with Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue casting the tie-breaking vote to approve the bill.

"I did what I thought was right," Perdue said.

Senate leader Marc Basnight told WRAL he called senators back to Raleigh because he thought the votes were there to pass a lottery. Two Republican senators who opposed the lottery -- Harry Brown of Onslow County and Robert Garwood of Wilkes County -- were not present at the Legislature for the vote. Garwood was sick and Brown was on his honeymoon.

Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, said the state needed the lottery to help education.

"All of the southeastern states around us have the lottery. We are supporting schools in other states that are badly needed here," Rand said.

Perdue suspended the rules that required two separate votes on two separate days. Some lottery opponents claim Tuesday was a sad day for the state and a sneaky day in the Senate.

"The gambling industry has prevailed in North Carolina and convinced the state to go into the gambling business with them," said Bill Brooks of North Carolina Family Policy.

Officials said lottery games could show up in North Carolina in six months. Here is a breakdown of the proposed revenues for the lottery.

  • 50 percent would be allocated to pay prizes
  • 7 percent for compensation of lottery retailers
  • 8 percent for operating expenses -- including 1 million a year for gambling addition programs and no more than 1-percent for advertising
  • 35 percent for Education Lottery Fund
  • Within the Education Lottery Fund:

  • 50 percent to support reduction of class size and support pre-K programs for at-risk children
  • 40 percent to new school construction
  • 10 percent to college scholarships
  • Plus, 5 percent of prior year's net revenue would go into an Education Lottery Reserve Fund.


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