Local News

As Lottery Fever Sweeps the U.S., Debate Over a Lottery in N.C. Continues

Posted May 2, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— As Big Game fever sweeps the country, North Carolina is on the outside looking in. With therace for governorset, the debate over a state lottery begins.

North Carolina is the largest state in the country without a lottery. Mike Easley supports a lottery; Richard Vinroot does not.

North Carolina residents spend $100 million a year on theVirginia lotterywith about 33 cents of every dollar going to Virginia's schools.

Duke economist Charles Clotfelter's research shows about 60 percent of residents play the lottery in states that have them. Men play more than women while middle-aged people play more than the young and the old.

"People at lower income brackets spend on average a higher percentage of their income on the lottery than people in the middle or on top," Clotfelter says.

People in lottery states spend, on average, $150 a year on tickets. The bigger the jackpot, the more people play.

The money goes toward education, but residents cannot count on the funds always being there.

"I think the wisdom among people who run lotteries is that this is not the source you would want to rely on because there is a possibility that sales will go down," Clotfelter says.

It would likely be 2001 before a lottery referendum appears on the ballot in North Carolina.

The Virginia jackpot is at a record-high $200 million this week. Chances of winning are one in 76 million.