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Lottery Ad Taped at Fayetteville State Questioned

Posted February 5, 2008

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— A television commercial for the North Carolina Education Lottery that was taped Tuesday already has drawn criticism from a state lawmaker.

The advertisement features 15 children in a More at Four preschool classroom at Fayetteville State University's Early Childhood Learning Center. Lottery proceeds fund a sizable portion of the program's annual budget.

State Sen. Larry Shaw, D-Cumberland, said the ad exploits black children.

"I think it's immoral to use children to promote gambling," said Shaw, who voted for the lottery in the General Assembly but is opposed to gambling. "They're trying to use black kids to emotionally arouse people to buy tickets."

Both black and white children appear in the ad, which is scheduled to air at the end of the month.

"(Lottery officials) felt Fayetteville would give them the least resistance" about the ad, Shaw said. "They feel Fayetteville is not up to snuff."

State lottery director Tom Shaheen, who speaks in the ad, said there was nothing disrespectful about depicting Fayetteville or the university in the commercial.

"The students of Cumberland County received the fourth-largest amount of lottery dollars in 2007, so we're here. Next time, we're going to be in another community," Shaheen said.

He also said he sees nothing improper about showing children in the ad.

"We think it's part of our responsibility to go out and show people where the money is going," he said.

Parents watched Tuesday as the commercial was produced. Mike Ervin said he was excited to see his daughter in the program.

“I look at it this way: If that’s the way North Carolina has to get some revenue for education, you have to do what you got to do,” Ervin said.

Regardless of the philosophical differences, taping a lottery commercial on the Fayetteville State campus could violate a school policy, officials said.

University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles last May urged all chancellors in the 16-campus UNC system to refrain from entering lottery advertising agreements, which he said could encourage gambling by students.

Fayetteville State officials misinterpreted the policy, thinking it applied only to advertising at athletic events, spokesman Jeff Womble said.

“Of course, they would not purposefully violate a policy issued by Mr. Bowles,” Womble said.

Bowles' chief of staff, Jeffrey Davies, said Tuesday that Fayetteville State acted "inconsistent with the policy" by allowing the taping. But the university won't be penalized for the mistake, he said.


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  • ridgerunner Feb 6, 2008

    Originally there was not going to be much advertising as people would be standing in line to buy lottery tickets. That did not happen so what you see iswhat you get. So much for Erskine Bowles telling the Universities not to get involved with lottery advertising. I guess FSU did not think that applied to them.

  • jsanders Feb 6, 2008

    Re: "Every little bit helps when you trying to better education your children"

    That's one good reason for making sure lottery proceeds go toward proven education programs and needs, rather than programs that the state's own assessments show haven't worked:

  • petarp Feb 6, 2008

    I don't oppose the lottery being used for education. My daughter is able to go to community college because some of the money is from the NC Education Lottery. A portion came from a Pell Grant, a portion from a NC Community College fund for NC student residents and a portion from the NC Lottery. Every little bit helps when you trying to better education your children.

  • Karmageddon Feb 6, 2008

    They should have run a disclaimer at the end of the ad.
    "No Kids Were Harmed During The Filming Of This Commercial"

  • lindseydenning Feb 6, 2008

    I remember being in the preschool program at FSU when I was a child in the 80's. It was no poor minority child hand-out program; people were lining up with long waiting lists to get in. I remember strengthening my reading and writing skills (my parents were my primary teachers and remain so to this day) and making many friends from all walks of life. When we began school, we could write and speak well, as well as be self-starters and attempt to learn knew things on our own. These same friends and I went on to attend college and are doing very well (i.e. I'm a scientist in RTP now, and the majority of my friends are in PhD programs). Now with that said, the program could be very different now. When I was there, parents didn't just drop their kids off and then run off to work. Our parents were involved with us and the school. I guess we live in a different world when parents will use their children to suck up tax payer money instead of investing in their education.

  • Windsway Feb 5, 2008

    While I oppose the lottery, I would like to see the money used to support traditional education...grades K-12. More at 4 is our governor's pet project (can't remember his name) and is a new and, hopefully, a trial program. I would like to see documentation that shows the money used for that program is as beneficial as that given to the traditional classes. I would also like to see the state publish which county spends the most per capita and how much per capita they receive. I believe the lottery money should be divided by percentage based on spending per capita.

  • WRALSUCKS Feb 5, 2008

    The states misuse of "for the children" gambling proceeds is criminal. Their LACK of use of it for this expressed purpose is worse.

  • whatusay Feb 5, 2008

    Very little of the lottery income goes toward education as it was originally sold to the citizens of NC. Same scam as the Police Benevolent fund where only 17% of all collected goes to help. What a rip-off. Everytime you decide to buy a lottery ticket, just give it to the PTO.

  • old wise 1 Feb 5, 2008

    "One of the reasons I do not play the lottery is precisely because they use the money for this more at four program that should not even exist in the first place"

    Why should this program not exist?

  • whatelseisnew Feb 5, 2008

    Yes absolutely; lets have more and more government programs. I want to have it so that the government picks up the children from the hospital nursery and immediately starts indoctrinating them to become good little drones. More at four and headstart should be dropped and the money being wasted there can go to people to pay for tuition to send their kids to private schools.