Local Politics

Bill would scratch 'education' off lottery name

Posted May 21, 2008 4:57 p.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2008 7:34 p.m. EDT

— What's in a name? One state lawmaker says the North Carolina Education Lottery needs to change its name to avoid sullying the reputation of public education in the state.

"To me, 'lottery' is 'gambling.' We all agree with that, and I thought to assign 'educational lottery' to its name had a demeaning aspect about it," said state Sen. Harris Blake, R-Moore.

When it was approved by state lawmakers three years ago, the lottery was presented to the public as a way to supplement funds for North Carolina's public schools. To date, the numbers games have raised $638 million for school districts statewide.

Still, Blake said he finds the name disturbing.

"Suppose you're trying to teach something about ethics and you refer to the North Carolina Educational Lottery. How do you defend that? How do you explain that?" he said. "It just occurred to me that you take the word 'education' out of it."

Under Senate Bill 1705, the games would be known as the North Carolina State Lottery.

State Rep. Ty Harrell, D-Wake, said changing the lottery's name could lay the groundwork for some unintended consequences.

"The whole purpose of having this lottery instituted ... was for education purposes. So, if we start down this slippery slope, the next thing you know, the money's going to start going towards something other than education," Harrell said. "That isn't something I can support."

Lottery officials said they were unaware of the bill. Whatever the games' name, they said, they expect to transfer another $380 million to North Carolina schools in the coming year.