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Former State Lawmaker Claims Lottery Is Bad Bet For N.C.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Once again, a statewide lottery is being proposed to help solve the state's budget woes. Gov. Mike Easley said the lottery could pay for education and help fill other budget holes. Opponents claim the lottery is a bad bet for the state.

Easley said a lottery could generate as much as $500 million a year for education. Chuck Neely, chairman of Citizens United Against The Lottery, said under no circumstances would a lottery be good for the state, no matter how much or where the money would go.

"What this really is, is a lottery that is now being pushed because of the current budget crisis that the state is in," he said.

Neely, a former state lawmaker, said he does not buy Easley's labeling of any lottery as an "education" lottery. Neely is convinced no matter how much money a lottery generates, there is no guarantee it would go to education. Even if there was a guarantee, Neely does not believe a lottery is the way to go.

"Because what you're seeing with the lottery is something that is inherently predatory on poor people, and it puts government in the business of trying to sucker its own people into making bets that they're going to lose," he said.

Neely points out that revenues are down for lotteries in other states, and there are better ways to balance budgets and meet North Carolina's needs.

"Think what a message that sends also to our children. Here we are trying to teach character education to our children and yet we're going to tell kids to gamble to get ahead. Don't save. Don't be prudent. Don't do the things which we try to teach our children," Neely said.

When state lawmakers return for the short session, there will be pressure from Easley to pass a lottery. Neely said he is convinced the votes are not there.

"Either in the form of a referendum or in the form that the governor is now calling for just a flat up or down vote on it, I don't see that in the cards," he said.


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