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Public Hearing Held To Discuss Lottery Issue

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RALEIGH, N.C. — If you are a betting person, you may want to hold on to your cash. It appears the odds of a state lottery are split right down the middle.

A House committee held a public hearing Monday to consider several bills for a lottery referendum. Under the proposals, the revenue would be used for education.

Thurbert Baker, Georgia's Attorney General and a former high school classmate of Gov. Mike Easley, helped to pass a lottery in his state. He came to North Carolina to lend his support to the cause.

"When we tried to pass it back in 1991, 92 in Georgia, there were a number of people who opposed the lottery. I can't find a single person in the whole state of Georgia who was against the lottery," he said.

Baker calls the lottery an investment in young people's minds, but critics say that investment does not always pay off.

"More than half of these states' lotteries are in decline, so it is not a stable income base," says former UNC System President Bill Friday.

Gov. Mike Easley says North Carolinians spend millions of dollars playing their luck in other states. He wants the money to stay in the state.

The House could vote on a lottery proposal this week, but observers are concerned whether it will even get out of the committee.

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