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Opponents of lottery say 'I told you so'

Editorial / OpinionEditorial / Opinion: Opponents of lottery say 'I told you so'

A database consultant alleges the N.C. Lottery didn't deliver the money promised

By Frank Koconis

The N.C. Education Lottery has been in operation for barely a year, and so far the state has seen little benefit from it. The promised boost in education funding is much smaller than expected, and for certain programs, nonexistent. Even worse, some of the ominous predictions of those who originally opposed the lottery appear to be coming true.

The lottery simply isn't bringing in nearly as much money as it was expected to. Back in January of this year, with the lottery not even six months old, sales were already falling dramatically. In July of last year, $52 million of scratch-off tickets were sold, but by January, that had fallen to only $37 million. At that point, lottery officials stated that they would miss their sales target of $1.2 billion for the first year by $200 million. A few months later, they admitted that the results were even worse than that — at least $300 million below their prediction.

This means schools aren't getting as much money as they expected — an unpleasant shock to school systems that planned budgets based on lottery officials' estimates, especially in poorer counties. Robeson County, for example, may get $400,000 less than expected. Across the state, funding for more than 400 elementary teaching positions, promised from lottery proceeds, may not appear.

And, in a sneaky type of political bait-and-switch, some of the lottery money that is going to education programs turns out to be replacing, rather than increasing, their funding. This has occurred in almost every state that has a lottery, and it's happening here now. One example is the "More at Four" pre-kindergarten program: it was originally paid for out of the general fund but it is now largely funded by the lottery. Our crafty politicians in Raleigh are now using that general fund money for other purposes.

Legal problems? You bet

The lottery has had internal troubles. State-run lotteries are supposed to be a way of allowing gambling in a controlled form, without increasing crime. The NCEL didn't live up to that ideal, however. Before the first ticket was even printed, there was already scandal: lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings was convicted of illegal lobbying and mail fraud.Lottery ticket sales to minors is another problem. In a recent statewide "sting" operation, undercover teens were able to successfully purchase them 98 times, in 348 attempts. Thirty-eight of the stores that were caught illegally selling tickets to minors were in Charlotte.

Since the lottery is bringing in much less money than expected, the state is now trying to come up with creative ways to boost ticket sales.

One new idea is ticket vending machines; these are now being installed in hundreds of supermarkets and convenience stores. And how, exactly, will the machines enforce the no-minors rule? According to one lottery official, each machine has a remote switch that allows a store clerk to shut it off if he or she sees a minor attempting to use it. (And how will this clerk be able to tell a 17-year-old from an 18-year-old from 30 feet away?)

Miss goals? Collect raise

In spite of the lottery's problems and its significant shortfall in revenue, the man who runs it just got a big fat raise! Tom Shaheen, executive director of the NCEL, got a salary increase of almost $6,000 a few months ago, bringing his total salary to nearly $250,000, almost twice what the governor makes! What a head-scratcher: Only in government can somebody who missed his goals by 20 percent get a pat on the back and a bigger paycheck.

In another interesting twist, the lottery had been challenged in state court. A lawsuit, filed by a group of people who never wanted the lottery in the first place, claims that the lottery is actually a type of tax (or at least, the portion that funds education is). If that is true, then it should have been passed using the legislature's special approval process for taxes, which it wasn't.

Although the suit failed in lower court, it has been appealed. If the lawsuit finally succeeds, then the appeals court could order that the lottery be halted. It would then be necessary for the legislature to re-approve the lottery, using the tax-increase procedure.

If that happens, it is possible that the lottery might not pass a second time and might be dead for good. Remember, it only barely passed before (only a two-vote margin in the House, and only one in the Senate). Considering that it has had problems and hasn't lived up to its promises, that might be a good thing.

Charlotte Observer

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12 comments. Last comment 7 years ago by jarasan.
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Avatar
Coastal Georgia
United States
Member #2653
October 30, 2003
1866 Posts
Offline
Posted: September 19, 2007, 1:40 pm - IP Logged

Tom Shaheen, executive director of the NCEL, got a salary increase of almost $6,000 a few months ago, bringing his total salary to nearly $250,000, almost twice what the governor makes! What a head-scratcher: Only in government can somebody who missed his goals by 20 percent get a pat on the back and a bigger paycheck.

Stooges  +  Agree with stupid  =    Thud

 

                               

              

 

 

    wpb's avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
    Charlotte North Carolina
    United States
    Member #464
    July 9, 2002
    16864 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: September 19, 2007, 7:30 pm - IP Logged

    NC may not have made all of the  money they wanted, but look at the money they made.  It's more than we had before the lottery started.

    wpb

      JAP69's avatar - 2526
      South Carolina
      United States
      Member #6
      November 4, 2001
      8506 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: September 19, 2007, 7:38 pm - IP Logged

      the problem with budgets before you get the money is they anticipate the expected amount and budget it.

      Should be get the money first then spend it.

      Stats hunting: Type

        sirbrad's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
        PA
        United States
        Member #22983
        October 6, 2005
        2010 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: September 19, 2007, 7:54 pm - IP Logged

        "Since the lottery is bringing in much less money than expected, the state is now trying to come up with creative ways to boost ticket sales."

         

        Try lowering the unrealistic matrixes. As opposed to raising them all the time just to keep winners at a very low minimum, and keep more money coming into your already overflowing pockets. This obviously equates to LESS people buying tickets after constant losses. Duh.

          AceKicka's avatar - Lottery-057.jpg
          Triad, N Carolina
          United States
          Member #53117
          June 24, 2007
          5964 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: September 21, 2007, 6:17 am - IP Logged

          At least North Carolina still has REAL drawings!  I suggest that our  opponents remember all the cash that went to our neighboring states before we finally wised up.

          Times are getting tough with all the inflation and high energy prices. Be happy with what you're getting.  But still, we do need to keep all the dirty little hands out of the cookie jar.

          I'm ready for the PICK 4, myself.  SO BRING IT ON!

            Avatar
            New Member

            United States
            Member #54836
            August 31, 2007
            3 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: September 22, 2007, 2:19 pm - IP Logged

            Tom Shaheen is the same as the Tn director Rebecca Paul ( who got him the job).

             Over paid, giving contracts their buddies. Same vendors over and over

              Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
              Zeta Reticuli Star System
              United States
              Member #30470
              January 17, 2006
              9059 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: September 22, 2007, 7:42 pm - IP Logged

              Just start LOTTO USA (original name of Powerball by the way) and have it run by a group of people that know what they're doing, with no vested intererests. 

              Do't make empty promises about over- inflated bucks for education,  have more jackpots- maybe a red game / green game for $2 (second jackpot drawing like red / green Keno) and more generous 2nd and 3rd place prizes.

              Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

              Lep

              There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                Avatar
                NY
                United States
                Member #23835
                October 16, 2005
                2829 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: September 23, 2007, 2:11 pm - IP Logged

                Tom Shaheen, executive director of the NCEL, got a salary increase of almost $6,000 a few months ago, bringing his total salary to nearly $250,000, almost twice what the governor makes! What a head-scratcher: Only in government can somebody who missed his goals by 20 percent get a pat on the back and a bigger paycheck.

                Stooges  +  Agree with stupid  =    Thud

                Missing the goal is meaningless if the goal is meaningless in the first place, and  any goal for first year sales with a brand new lottery is pretty much a shot in the dark. The director was apparently making about 240k, so a 6k raise is 2.5%. That's known as a cost of living raise.

                  Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                  Charlotte NC
                  United States
                  Member #17406
                  June 18, 2005
                  4036 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: September 23, 2007, 2:41 pm - IP Logged

                  At least North Carolina still has REAL drawings!  I suggest that our  opponents remember all the cash that went to our neighboring states before we finally wised up.

                  Times are getting tough with all the inflation and high energy prices. Be happy with what you're getting.  But still, we do need to keep all the dirty little hands out of the cookie jar.

                  I'm ready for the PICK 4, myself.  SO BRING IT ON!

                  What?I've never seen a ball drawing like the one in NC.  What kind of Lottery machine is that?  It looks antiquated and throws a lot of repeats.

                  They need to turn the machines on one at a time and let us see them doing it instead of already having the balls going.  They could have duplicate balls in there for all we know.  No wonder we are constantly in a repeat loop that delay all the numbers falling in the realm. 

                  They need to get on with bringing all the numbers, get a Midday Pick 3, a pick 4, increase the payout for scratch offs, and do a lot better with the Carolina Five because it is bad. 

                  Also, they need to bring the drawing earlier, 11:22 p.m. is too damn late for a drawing.  We don't live in the desert.  That is bad too.

                  No wonder people still go to SC to play.  I don't contribute money to the NC Lottery. 

                  I was excited about the NC Lottery but if they take it away, I wouldn't blink an eye.  It is a joke.

                  We should boycot the NC Lottery.   I ain't trying to be happy with what I am getting with the NC Lottery.  I demand better.

                  takeemtothebank

                    AceKicka's avatar - Lottery-057.jpg
                    Triad, N Carolina
                    United States
                    Member #53117
                    June 24, 2007
                    5964 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: September 23, 2007, 6:37 pm - IP Logged

                    What?I've never seen a ball drawing like the one in NC.  What kind of Lottery machine is that?  It looks antiquated and throws a lot of repeats.

                    They need to turn the machines on one at a time and let us see them doing it instead of already having the balls going.  They could have duplicate balls in there for all we know.  No wonder we are constantly in a repeat loop that delay all the numbers falling in the realm. 

                    They need to get on with bringing all the numbers, get a Midday Pick 3, a pick 4, increase the payout for scratch offs, and do a lot better with the Carolina Five because it is bad. 

                    Also, they need to bring the drawing earlier, 11:22 p.m. is too damn late for a drawing.  We don't live in the desert.  That is bad too.

                    No wonder people still go to SC to play.  I don't contribute money to the NC Lottery. 

                    I was excited about the NC Lottery but if they take it away, I wouldn't blink an eye.  It is a joke.

                    We should boycot the NC Lottery.   I ain't trying to be happy with what I am getting with the NC Lottery.  I demand better.

                    Hello Tenaj,

                    I must say that I've only watched a few actual drawings being that I have to crank up the ol' rabbit ears to do that.  But I'll check that machine out a little closer tonight. 

                    And I agree that they throw the most repeats and curve balls that I've ever seen. I've spent a ton of cash on my pet #'s. (time to get a new dog!)  I'm in trip-mode now. Puttin a deuce on all 10, just tryin' to catch the next one. Then I'm gon' drop the hell out of 'em. 

                    Like I said before, I'm ready for pick 4. There's good $$ in playing it boxed. But until I figure this system out a little better - I don't need a day drawing.  As far as cash 5 is concerned, I've been very close to the jackpot a few times.  It will be mine.....soon.

                    I really like Virginia's games. I've won many times there. But I'm not ready to give up on NC just yet.  Hey T - just be glad we're not in 10nnessee.......DAMN!!  And I'm glad that the cartel is catchin hell right about now.  PEOPLE OF 10NNESSEE UNITE!! YOU GOT 'EM ON THE RUN NOW - DON'T LET UP!!  FIGHT THE POWER THAT BE!!

                    Cool chattin' with ya, T

                    "Game On.......'CAUSE ACE HAS YOUR NUMBER!!"

                                                                                              -- (AceKicka '07)

                      Avatar
                      Oklahoma City
                      United States
                      Member #54055
                      August 2, 2007
                      22 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: September 26, 2007, 7:36 pm - IP Logged

                      This is what we are dealing with at the Oklahoma Lottery.  Legislators think if we increase prize payout we are decreasing money to education...we are decreasing the percentage yes, but would be taking from a much bigger pie.  They don't get it.  And what are they talking about in NC, saying it is a kind of tax?  If taxes are optional I'm not paying mine anymore! 

                        jarasan's avatar - new patrick.gif
                        Viva La Chance!
                        Rockville, MD.
                        United States
                        Member #44103
                        July 30, 2006
                        4948 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: September 26, 2007, 8:03 pm - IP Logged

                        As far as NC., OK.  goes, if they add P4 with P3 twice a day with televised live (in addition, make it available on the internet with a certification within minutes so people can view at their leisure) start to finish drawings, they would get the volume they need, along with greater customer satisfaction.  Give the people what they want, make them trust you completely, and your sales will increase.  The pie analogy is right on.