Eight years after approving the creation of a state lottery, House members on Thursday sounded as though they would like to see the game repealed. Instead, the chamber easily passed the Honest Lottery Act, letting consumers know the long odds winning.
Rep. Paul Stam, sponsor of House Bill 156, called the lottery a scam:
“You actually have better odds with the mafia, than you do with the North Carolina lottery,” said Stam.
Rep. Larry Pittman told House members he would pull the entire advertising budget for the lottery, as he viewed gambling as “a sinful thing.”
Rep. John Bell also took issue with the games, but warned his colleagues it would be very difficult to replace the money that the lottery provides public education.
Since the lottery’s inception more than $2.69 billion has been transferred to the state for education programs.
Rep. Rick Glazier said while he had no problem with those running the lottery, he regretted that the game was being used to supplant education funding, further confusing the public about schools’ needs.
“It may have been the worst vote I cast as a member of the General Assembly,” said Glazier. “I only hope this bill provides an extended time over the next few years of discussion of better ways to improve it if we are keeping the lottery, better ways to get the information out to the public about what it does and doesn’t do, what it can and can’t do.”
Under House Bill 156, the lottery commission would be required to disclose the odds of winning any prize, as well as the actual odds of winning the prize with the largest value. The legislation would further prevent the lottery from running any games other than scratch-off tickets, or games in which random numbers are drawn.
The act also requires the University of North Carolina to develop and make available to the Department of Public Instruction course and professional development materials explaining the probabilities of winning the lottery for inclusion in future high school civics and math courses.
To hear a portion of Thursday’s debate on the Honest Lottery Act, click below: