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Lottery Bill Rolls Back Into North Carolina

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RALEIGH — The ball is rolling again to bring the lottery to North Carolina. A lottery bill has been filed in theGeneral Assembly,and the debate has begun between both lawmakers and residents.

The Bracey Mini-Mart located just over the Virginia border is a popular place with North Carolinians who are hoping to get rich by playing the lottery.

Store owner Jim Rightler says 85 percent of his lottery business comes from the Tar Heel state. He gets 5 percent of the lottery take, but he is more concerned about people's spending habits.

"Some of the people are spending money in the lottery instead of buying shoes or food for their kids," Rightler said.

Among the lottery faithful from south of the border, there was plenty of support for a North Carolina state lottery.

"Yes, I'd love for it to come," says Louisburg resident Edward Conklin. "Nobody's going to lose any money on it, and the state would actually gain money, because the people playing it now are going out to Virginia."

State Senator Tony Rand introduced the lottery referendum bill.

"It's their money and I think it's a little bit big brotherish for us to say you can't do this," Rand said. "You see it in church bingo parlors."

"I think an issue that's of even greater importance is the moral crisis we have in our country, and our state if we put a lottery into effect in North Carolina," says Rep. Russell Capps, R-Wake County. "It's going to make the moral crisis worse."

While their personal opinions vary on the lottery itself, Governor Jim Hunt, Lt. Governor Dennis Wicker, and new house speaker Jim Black all support letting the people decide on the lottery.

If the bill passes, supporters want to put the lottery on the ballot in November 2000.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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