Our View: Stam scratches lottery sales ban

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 01:10 AM

N.C. Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, has had a change of heart on a proposal to prohibit folks on welfare or in bankruptcy from buying lottery tickets. He recently said a bill involving the North Carolina lottery won’t contain the ban on sales.
The idea of such a ban was being considered for inclusion in a bill Stam is preparing that would remove the word “education” from the formal name of the state’s lottery. Stam says he’s pushing for striking “education” because lottery proceeds represent a small portion of state funding for education.
Stam said he received many questions about the proposal for banning lottery sales from all sides of the issue, so he decided to remove the ban from his bill. He said the proposal to ban lottery ticket sales to welfare recipients and those in bankruptcy was just a minor part of his planned bill, anyway.
Prohibiting those lottery sales may have been a minor part of the bill, in Stam’s view, but the notion generated a pretty significant buzz here and across the state. A poll the Enterprise ran for a week on the home page of our website — hpe.com — attracted a few hundred replies to four responses offered, and it seems just under half the folks around here wanted the ban and just over half didn’t care for it.
Some 48.2 percent of those taking the poll said a law banning the sales should be passed. A “No” response received a 22.3 percent vote, while the response, “Idea is a waste of time” actually had the second-highest tally of responses at 22.8 percent. The response, “How do you enforce it?” received 6.7 percent of the vote.
Support for not banning the sales was higher among those who responded anonymously to the 30-word Your View Poll question on the issue published on the Enterprise’s Opinion page a number of times. About 80 percent of those responses expressed no support for passing such a prohibition.
As for us, while we agree that someone on welfare or in bankruptcy has many, many things they need to be spending money on other than the lottery, the question of enforcement looms large. It seems the state easily could waste time and spend more money trying to enforce such a law than it would prevent from being spent on the lottery.
As for the idea of dropping “education” from the lottery’s formal name, let’s hope not much time and money is lost on that matter, too. Proceeds from the lottery, about a third of every dollar spent, go to support education in North Carolina. More than $2.58 billion has been raised for education, so far. So why not call it that?