Regarding Charles Heatherly’s March 30 Point of View “The N.C. lottery’s losing numbers”: Many North Carolinians enjoy playing the lottery. They’re glad that the state has a source of extra revenue for a good cause.
In its nine years of existence, the lottery has raised more than $3.6 billion for education. The money has helped to pay teachers and teacher assistants, to build and repair schools, to give “at-risk” 4-year-olds a stronger start in school and to help pay the costs of going to college.
Without the lottery, where would half a billion dollars a year come from? Higher state income taxes? Higher property taxes? Higher tuition bills?
Some folks, such as Heatherly, wish the state did not have a lottery. The lottery tries to serve folks with that point of view by operating the lottery fairly, efficiently and responsibly. His Point of View made several assertions that need clarity.
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He asserted lottery supporters promised $1 billion a year in earnings. We cannot find such an assertion. We can find statements that a lottery could earn $300 million to $500 million a year. The lottery raised more than $300 million its first full year of operations and exceeded $500 million in earnings in its eighth year.
He suggested that folks are buying lottery tickets with an EBT card. Not true. Lottery tickets can be purchased only with cash or a debit card. He asserted that because it is called the education lottery, most of its revenues should go to education. There is a good reason prizes are the lottery’s largest expense. Prizes are the lottery’s product. If we weaken the product, sales fall. If we improve the product, sales and earnings increase.
We’ve increased sales and, most important, earnings every year. The overwhelming majority of people who play the lottery play for fun and in moderation with money set aside for entertainment. And we strive in our sales, advertising and marketing practices to operate the lottery responsibly with those goals in mind.
Executive director, N.C. Education Lottery
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response.