Local News

N.C. Lawmakers May Take Another Gamble On Statewide Lottery

Posted January 23, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— North Carolina lawmakers could roll the dice on a state lottery. With neighbors to the north and south already gambling, the Tar Heel state could be closer than ever in trying its luck.

When the jackpot grows, North Carolinians head north of the border. State Rep. Bill Owens (D-Elizabeth City) filed a bill Wednesday that could bring a Virginia-style lottery to North Carolina. South Carolina voters approved a lottery last November.

"If you had a business and money was going to a neighboring business, you would do what you could to capture that money and keep it for yourself. That's the case here. It makes good business sense," he says.

Rep. Leo Daughtry (R-Johnston) says business sense is not always good sense.

"It's a tax on poor people. It cheapens our state," he says. "It puts our state in the advertising business of saying to people in North Carolina, if you just buy a lottery ticket, you'll get rich."

The bill balances the moral issue by earmarking most of the proceeds from the lottery for education.Gov. Mike Easleysays he will support the bill if the money goes toward education.

"I would like to see it go to pre-kindergarten four-year-olds and reducing class size," he says. "Right now, we're in a budget shortfall. We don't have the money for that, and we need to find a new source of revenue. That would be a new way to do it."

AYour Voice, Your Vote polltaken last summer showed that 70 percent of North Carolinians support a lottery.