By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
March 1, 2013
RALEIGH — The lottery is gambling, and gambling is never a good thing. But should the operators of North Carolina’s lottery be more truthful about how it’s run?
That’s the premise behind House Bill 156, the Honest Lottery Act, filed Tuesday by House Speaker Pro-Tempore Paul Stam (R-Wake) and referred to the Committee on Judiciary Subcommittee B.
The bipartisan bill would not only change the name of the lottery to remove its reference to education, it would also prohibit lottery advertising at high school and college sporting events, force the lottery to be more forthcoming with odds of winning for each game and modify its advertising to make it more fair.
“We’ve said before our preference is that lawmakers would do away with the lottery altogether,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “But if they are set on keeping it, then we’d love to see improvements that limit advertising and more fully disclose the fact that it is certainly not the best way to get rich quick. In fact, what it does is make a lot of poor people even poorer.”
The measure would prohibit the Lottery Commission from adding new games without the General Assembly’s approval – a move that could become especially important as lottery officials last year began investigating the idea of adding Keno. It would also ensure that when a game is advertised, the odds of winning each level of prize are clearly disclosed and featured on the lottery web site.
It would have the lottery refer to gambling as “gambling” and not “gaming” and would prohibit the use of cartoon characters on lottery tickets. It would also require that lottery ads that show a prize that is to be paid in installments over time also disclose the present value of the prize.
Further, the bill would require the University of North Carolina to develop a course and teaching materials to give to the Department of Public Instruction describing probability and other math features used in a lottery game to be utilized in high school civics and math courses and also to be made available for non-public schools.
“It would be wise of North Carolina to explain to students the math behind these games and the truth that their chances of winning the lottery are unbelievably small,” said Dr. Creech. “If people understand that and choose never to buy that first lottery ticket it will save a lot of heartache.”
If the bill passes, UNC would also be conducting an analysis of lottery ticket buyers and sales as well as outlet locations with regard to frequency, amount spent, family income and other societal factors, with the outcome presented to the Legislative Research Commission.
Finally, the bill would establish Wake as the county where any lawsuits against the lottery would be filed.
The proposed legislation, supported by the majority and minority leaders of the House, still has a long way to go. If it makes it out of the Judiciary Committee with a favorable recommendation, it will go on to Education and then to Appropriations before coming to the House floor for a vote.