Under the Dome

NC House panel debates lottery regulations

Clerk Maxine Thomas runs a customer's lottery ticket through the machine as people play the N.C. Education Lottery at C Mini Mart on Poole Rd. in Raleigh on March 2, 2015.
Clerk Maxine Thomas runs a customer's lottery ticket through the machine as people play the N.C. Education Lottery at C Mini Mart on Poole Rd. in Raleigh on March 2, 2015. cseward@newsobserver.com

A state House committee is mulling new regulations that would change how the N.C. Education Lottery advertises and what games it can offer.

House Bill 109 is a stripped-down version of an earlier “Honest Lottery Act” sponsored by Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican. Stam’s previous effort passed the House but stalled in the Senate. He said he hopes the new bill will “accomplish something this year to fix the lottery.”

“We said (to Senate leaders), ‘what are the parts that you did not object to, and we’ll put that in this bill,’” Stam said. “This was intended to sail through like a greased glove or whatever you call it.”

Stam wants the lottery to change the odds of winning it uses in advertising. His bill would require advertised odds to reflect the chances of winning the top prize – not the odds of winning any prize.

The bill also limits the lottery to offering “only draw-style games and instant scratch-off games” unless the legislature OKs another kind of game. Current law allows the lottery to use any games used in other states.

“Essentially you’re outsourcing your policy to the craziest state in the nation,” Stam said.

Other provisions include:

▪ Cartoon characters would be banned from appearing on lottery tickets.

▪ The word “gambling” would be inserted into the law. Stam says “gaming” is the wrong word because “gaming is like playing Monopoly or Wii, or whatever you call that thing.”

▪ State agencies using lottery revenue would be required to list how much money they received and what it’s used for.

The House Judiciary II committee won’t vote on the measure until its next meeting.

Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, said he’s concerned about the bill’s effects.

“It is quite conceivable we would see a drop in lottery revenues” if it passes, he said.

A different House committee is mulling a proposal to make lottery winners anonymous, and that bill is scheduled for a vote later this week.

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