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The Lure Of the Lottery

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RALEIGH — For the first time ever, a North Carolina governor is pushing for a lottery as a revenue source.

Governor Mike Easley has called for a lottery to support education, but there is still strong opposition in the

North Carolina General Assembly


Why are politicians reluctant to heed the governor's call and why have so many special interest groups become involved in the battle? Will North Carolina remain the largest state in the country without a lottery?

Within the next two weeks, state lawmakers will decide if that will change. The new budget must be hammered out by July 1.

If the budget includes funding from a lottery, then voters would likely have their say in a referendum. Recent polls show North Carolinians would approve it.

However, opponents may have the upper hand in the General Assembly. So far, most state lawmakers will not go along with a lottery. The governor may not put his name on a budget without one.

Many high-profile community leaders are behind the anti-lottery push, saying there is a better way. Opponents say the games will hurt small businesses and prey on the most vulnerable citizens.

Thirty-eight states already have a lottery. Many Tar Heels cross the borders to Virginia and Georgia to play. Soon, South Carolina will be an option, too.

North Carolina lottery supporters have looked to states like Georgia to see how the lottery has helped with education funding. Hope Scholarships provide 40 percent of all high school seniors with in-state college tuition, money paid by the Georgia Lottery.

Even though North Carolina money may be helping to fund such programs in other states, Tar Heel lawmakers have been reluctant to give in to the lure of the lottery.

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