Local News

Clock Ticking For Proposed Lottery Bill

Posted March 30, 2005 4:32 a.m. EST

— One day after a legislative committee held its first meeting on a state lottery, the debate over whether North Carolina should have one to support education is heating up.

People who want a lottery claim they have a good argument. First, North Carolina is the only state on the east coast without a lottery. Second, they claim millions of dollars that could support education in the state is spent on lottery tickets in places such as Virginia and South Carolina.

"The truth is, our people are playing the lottery. We have a lottery, but our children, our students, are not benefitting from the lottery," said Rep. Margaret Dickson, D-Cumberland.

Lottery opponents such as Jim Goodmon, president of WRAL's parent company, Capitol Broadcasting, do not buy that argument.

"What is this that we have to have a lottery because everyone else has a lottery?" he said.

Opponents argue a lottery will unfairly target poor people, who studies show buy more lottery tickets than rich people. They also point out the bulk of the proceeds from a lottery go to prizes and operating costs -- not education.

A campaign is under way to sway lawmakers who are still undecided. House Speaker Jim Black wants to bring a lottery bill to a vote by April 11.