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The lottery lunacy continues

By Chris Fitzsimon
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007

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Raleigh, NC - The lottery lunacy continues this week. First comes the announcement that lottery tickets will be sold in vending machines, mostly in grocery stores. That’s a good idea, making the tickets available to anyone with a dollar to throw away, regardless of their age.

Maybe we could put the machines in high school cafeterias too.

Oh no, say the lottery honchos, telling the Charlotte Observer that the state “strongly recommends” that the machines be put in places where the clerks can see them. Other states require the machines to be put where they can seen by employees. Our guys simply suggest it, even though it is against the law for kids under 18 to buy a ticket.

No worries. Surely cashiers scrambling to find the bar code to scan on the bottom of a box of Hot Pockets are going to keep their eyes peeled to see if someone who looks under 18 is walking around the corner to buy a fistful of lottery tickets.

Maybe we could put the machines in high school cafeterias too. There are 18-year-olds in high school after all and we need to sell more tickets. We could ask the folks serving fish sticks to keep an eye out for sophomores trying to strike it rich with their lunch money.

And vending machines aren’t the only problem. Even Lottery Director Tom Shaheen seems to be scratching his head at the latest plan from Lottery King and Governor Mike Easley.

Easley’s budget increases the percentage of lottery revenue that is given away in prizes and decreases the percentage allocated to education. The theory is that more people will play if there is money to win and that education will actually receive more money in the end.

The theory has worked in other states that have increased the percentage of prize money, but as the News and Observer reports, no state has seen a bump in revenues anywhere close to Easley’s projected 100 percent increase, but his budget proposal counts on it anyway.

Shaheen says “it won’t be easy to get there.” No big deal really, it’s only the funding for our schools that is at stake.


Editorial note: It is the policy of the Chatham Journal newspaper to never refer to the NC Lottery as the Education Lottery.

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The lottery lunacy continues