Stam: Lottery ads misleading

Posted October 27, 2014

— Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, says the North Carolina Education Lottery is using misleading advertising to promote one of its newest games. 

The All or Nothing game allows a player to win by guessing all of the numbers drawn correctly or by picking none of the numbers that show up. 

In advertisements for the game, the lottery shows people playing games such as darts and missing the board entirely with all three darts to illustrate the idea of missing all of the picks.

"The crux of the problem is that the advertisement compares a person not hitting a dart board three consecutive times to that of a person not being able to match numbers with any of the winning lottery numbers," Stam said in a news release. "If I were able to win a darts game by not hitting the bull's-eye three consecutive times, I could easily do so with unerring certainty a million times in a row. I would turn around and throw three darts in the complete opposite direction of a dartboard."

The same principle, he said, doesn't apply to a lottery game. 

"A player cannot purposefully select none of the winning numbers in the lottery game as he or she can purposefully lose a darts game. By comparing a game of skill to a game of chance, the Lottery Commission is falsely claiming that skill can prevail," Stam wrote. "By comparing a game of chance to a game of skill, our lottery commission intentionally tells its customers that there is something they can do to affect the odds. But there is not."

Lottery officials say they're merely illustrating the concept behind the games. 

"The illustrations in the ads create ways to win points in those popular games that are not real ways to win. People bowling don’t get points for gutter balls, and people playing darts don’t get points if they don’t hit the board. We used these examples for illustration only," lottery spokesman Van Denton said in an email. 

"In the All or Nothing lottery game, the odds for winning that top prize of $250,000 by either outcome are 1 in 1.35 million. We publicize those odds in the legal language on the All or Nothing ads," Denton said. "The odds are also available on the lottery’s website and in how to play information and point-of-state materials that accompany the All or Nothing game.

"Lottery games are games of chance. The Education Lottery recommends that anyone who chooses to play the lottery plays for fun and plays with money set aside for entertainment purposes," he said.

Stam has long been a critic of the lottery. This summer, House lawmakers attempted to bridge a budget gap by raising the revenue expected from the state's gambling enterprise. But at the same time, lawmakers would have required more disclaimers in lottery advertising. Both lottery officials and senators lambasted the plan, and eventually the legislature dropped the idea.


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  • Larry Lynch Oct 31, 2014
    user avatar

    you can thank bev perdue for yet once again screwing up NC by casting the deciding vote for the lottery --way back when. the lottery is one of the bigger lies laid upon the people of nc by the democratic party -and the repubs are guilty in supporting the lottery as well.

  • Arthur Raleigh Oct 29, 2014
    user avatar

    Just call it what it is--- and unfair tax to pay for services all NC citizens should be paying for. Actually, people with kids should be a school tax to fund schools!

  • dollibug Oct 29, 2014

    Buying Lottery Tickets is kind of like political positions - a voter never really KNOWS what the person they are voting for is going to do, OR NOT *

  • Jeremy Gilchrist Oct 29, 2014
    user avatar

    Paul "frack me" Stam. He is one of the names to remember when you no longer have clean drinking water.

  • miseem Oct 28, 2014

    View quoted thread

    The lottery was never intended to be more than a patch for education funding. And when it was passed, money was going to other states through their lotteries. Kind of like what is happening in NC with the Medicaid program. Currently, the state budget for public schools is a little under $8 billion and the lottery kicks in about $500 million, less than 6.5%. As predicted, the lottery money has been used to supplant general fund expenditures. But the question is are we better with that $500 million or without it? My opinion is yes, unless the US Congress outlaws state sponsored lotteries. And you know the likelihood of that happening. Or being upheld by the courts in this day of claims for states rights.

  • Lorna Schuler Oct 28, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Agreed, that is what was supposed to happen. However, the GA decided that since we now had the "education" lottery, that the GA didn't have to allocate as much funding towards education and thus cut education budgeting

  • JoCo50 at MXR Oct 28, 2014

    None of the lottery ads are misleading when you understand that you are not going to win.

    As far as the "hole in the budget", the lottery was supposed to be a magic cure that filled our schools with computers and new gadgets, while reducing the number of students per class and other pie in the sky promises. Funding problems were supposed to disappear when we stopped our money from going to other states the did have a lottery.

  • Sue DeMarrais Oct 28, 2014
    user avatar

    Eh, I don't like Stam, but I think he's right on this one. Few understand statistics, particularly the odds of avoiding chosen numbers. Having a commercial that makes avoiding chosen numbers seem easy just plays upon that ignorance, and even suggests that the faulty logic is valid.

  • tired2 Oct 28, 2014

    Stam is a simply a Baptist who knows what is good for everybody...and is happy to dictate how we should lead our lives...Stam is entitled to his opinions but not entitled to dictate how I should live my life...Stam - take your pulpit back inside and preach to yourself...leave us alone.

  • sabsco Oct 28, 2014

    View quoted thread

    My guess would be quite simply that there are not enough moderators to handle ALL of the posts that come in on a daily basis. New stories are constantly being posted which in turn generate new comments - drawing the moderators away from earlier threads. I've made plenty of posts that never show up but I don't take it personally and I certainly don't feel like I'm being "censored". I guarantee it's an issue of economy more than anything else.