Local News

Retailers, Players Could Run Into N.C. Lottery Red Tape

Posted September 19, 2005

— Owners at many convenience stores in North Carolina say they cannot wait to begin selling lottery tickets, but under the state's lottery law, they could run into red tape -- and so could lottery winners.

"As soon as they say 'Now, you can apply,' we will definitely try to apply," said Bhavna Parmar, who owns a convenience store in Raleigh.

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But applying may not be so easy.

Under the new law, storeowners must be current on all taxes -- not just for their business, but also for themselves. They must also agree to a criminal background check, which may include fingerprinting.

"We intend to run a sterile operation," said Sen. Vernon Malone, D-Wake County, who said he does not think the law will discourage storeowners from applying. "This is a business with us."

Prizewinners may also get stuck in red tape.

Under the law, players who win more than $600 must provide their Social Security numbers to pay taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. The state's lottery commission will also check to see if they owe money to the state or local agencies, before winners can collect their prizes.

Some future ticket buyers call it an invasion of privacy.

"If they want to take out taxes, that's fine," said potential lottery player Gertrude Watson. "I respect that, but not to go through my records."

With such regulations, critics say it may take a record jackpot to make a ticket purchase worth the process of claiming a lottery prize.

Lottery experts say North Carolina is stricter than many other states when it comes to a lottery. The state's lottery commission will set more rules once members are chosen; they are expected to be named this week.

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