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Don't 'Bet' On A North Carolina Lottery in 1999

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RALEIGH — With theGeneral Assemblywinding down, the odds North Carolina will see a lottery bill survive the session are about as good as the odds of winning the lottery.

North Carolinians may eventually get the chance to vote on it, but we will not know for sure at least until next year.

The lottery bill is all but dead for this session, but you can bet it will be on the agenda next year.

Despite the newHousecontrolled by Democrats, measures for a referendum on a state lottery never made it to committee.

The chief sponsor in theSenatesays the problem comes down to money and how to spend the projected $300 million in revenue a lottery would bring.

"Some people wanted senior citizens to get part of it. Some people wanted to build public schools with it," saidSenator Tony Rand.

Lottery opponents say it is more than that. They say a lottery bill is stagnant because opposition is so broad-based.

The president of the conservativeJohn Locke Foundation, John Hood, believes there is another reason lawmakers do not mind pushing the issue back a year.

"In my view, they're not all that upset that the lottery didn't pass this year. It gives them an issue in the election campaign," said Hood.

According to Hood, some Democrats believe a lottery will draw more people to the polls than Al Gore. Supporters say there is still plenty of time to get it on the ballot next November.

"I believe we're going to bring it to a vote in 2000," said Rand.

Rand says there really is not any urgency at this point since House leaders have already said they are not going to take up the issue until next year.

As for what to do with the revenue from a lottery, Rand says he would not mind tying the issue to theUNC bondsand dedicating lottery revenue to higher education.

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Laurie Clowers, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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