By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
December 19, 2019
“The North Carolina Lottery has been a spectacular failure, and it deserves to be phased out in the years ahead,” said Les Bernal, National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling. Bernal made the remarks during an interview with host John Rustin on the North Carolina Family Policy Council’s radio broadcasts, Family Policy Matters. “The idea that in North Carolina, your state lottery revenues are making a meaningful contribution and improving education in the state…underscores how dishonest and rigged the lottery system is. It’s been a huge public policy failure in the state,” continued Bernal.
Nevertheless, the state’s lottery commission wants to implement “Digital Instants,” a form of lottery gaming that closely mimics video poker and video sweepstakes gaming – something the state’s legislature has vigorously sought to purge from the state for more than a decade.
One proposal would allow a player to deposit as much as $500 daily, $2000 weekly, $4,000 monthly into an online lottery account. Players would then be given access to highly addictive games, which are faster, longer, and entice the player to play more frequently.
In a presentation before the Lottery Commission on November 5th, digital instant gaming was described in this way:
- Digital Instants is destination gaming, unlike retail, where the lottery is often ancillary activity, players are deliberately visiting digital instants site to escape and play. The entertainment time that they demand is far different than a store environment.
- Higher payouts deliver more value to players because digital instants players are there to play for more extended periods, a higher payout will allow players more playing time for the same dollar. An insufficient payout rate will make the time more expensive for a player to purchase and can lead to retention loss.
- Payout is directly correlated to the amount of time played.
- Higher payouts lead to longer playing times, more engaged players, and eventually more frequent visits.
- Engaging gameplay alone will not lead to long term success of a digital instant game.
“Digital Instants would be a hazardous form of playing the state lottery,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “What they’re talking about is a scratch ticket that is played online and is equivalent to online slots. It’s bad enough that the lottery, which is state-sanctioned gambling, fleeces its own citizens, making losers out of the vast majority of them to sustain its objectives. That is immoral in itself. But to use the most enticing, the most captivating, the most alluring form of gambling to empty the pockets of North Carolina citizens, especially the poor, is wickedly sinful.”
Creech said that if the lottery commission chooses to implement Digital Instants, he hopes the state legislature will intervene with legislation to repeal their decision and prohibit such gaming.
North Carolina law says the lottery commission has the authority to approve any game that any other state lottery offers. Currently, only five states offer Digital Instants: Michigan, Georgia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. But Creech said he believes most lawmakers, conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, might see the Digital Instants as a bridge too far.
In a December 13th letter addressed to state lawmakers, Governor Cooper, and lottery commission members, former House Speaker Pro-Tem, Paul “Skip Stam,” opposed implementation of Digital Instants and noted:
“In 2005, when the North Carolina General Assembly approved the creation of the NCEL (North Carolina Education Lottery), North Carolina was one of the last remaining states without a state-operated lottery system. At that time, the argument from the majority for approving the NCEL was to generate revenue for education through PowerBall and scratch-off tickets. Many of the opponents of the NCEL…feared that the games would prey on people who could ill-afford to lose their hard-earned income. Those of us on the opposing side also recognized that there would be pressure on the NCEL to create games and run add campaigns to influence people to gamble. It is very unfortunate that the NCEL has evolved to where it is now.”
Stam added in his letter that the only difference between what’s being proposed and sweepstakes/video poker gaming is who would promote the games and collect the revenue.
Bernal told Rustin he thought the matter should be at the top of every North Carolina citizen’s agenda.
“If you really want to make a meaningful impact on your state, there are few issues that will be more impactful than getting the state to stop sanctioning these extreme forms of gambling,” said Bernal. “It will improve the financial condition for all your citizens if you get the state to stop doing this….It improves people financially; it improves the health of your state; and it improves the state’s financial picture, which allows the state to get back to what it’s supposed to be doing – things that benefit common state purpose, improve people’s lives, and not to rip people off.”
The lottery commission has delayed any official decision on Digital Instants, and it’s not known when their decision would be made.
The Christian Action League will do its best to keep its supporters apprised. But concerned citizen Christians should act now!
Take Christian Action:
The Christian Action League urges its individual supporters, as well as all of its supporting churches to circulate this information. They should speak to their state lawmakers and urge them to press the lottery commission not to approve this very predatory form of gaming. CAL supporters may also want to send an email to the lottery commission members listed below, urging them to abandon the implementation of Digital Instants lottery gaming.
North Carolina Education Lottery Commission:
Mr. Courtney Crowder, Chairman: Courtney@crowderconsultingllc.com
Mr. Richard (Buddy) Bengel, Chairman of the Games and Marketing Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Nick Picerno, Commissioner: email@example.com
Mr. Morgan Beam, Commissioner: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Jody Tyson, Vice Chairman of the Commission: email@example.com
Mr. Chris Shew, Chairman of the Internal Operations Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Jason Roth, Chairman of the Financial Matters Committee: email@example.com
Mr. Randy Jones, Commissioner: firstname.lastname@example.org