Not so fast, lottery lovers.
North Carolina Senate leader Marc Basnight said Wednesday that he doesn't want to rush a lottery bill to a vote.
"We have no plans whatsoever," the Manteo Democrat said.
Basnight said he wants to give senators time to discuss options. The Senate also might combine a lottery bill with new taxes.
The Senate has been considered the more lottery-friendly of the two chambers, having passed lottery bills in 1989, 1991 and 1993. The Senate defeated a lottery plan in 1995.
In 1993, when lawmakers approved a citizen vote on the lottery, Democrats held a 39-11 advantage in the Senate. The Senate passed that lottery referendum bill 27-23.
Democrats now hold a 29-21 advantage, and at least three, Janet Cowell of Raleigh, Ellie Kinnaird of Carrboro and Martin Nesbitt of Asheville, say they won't vote for a stand-alone lottery law.
Sen. Tony Rand, the Senate majority leader, said he liked two big pieces of the House bill, the college scholarships based on need and the money for school construction.
"I'm delighted that's part of it," he said.
Rand said Senate Democrats need to talk about it among themselves and with House leaders.
Senate Republican leader Phil Berger of Eden said he doesn't know whether any GOP senators support a lottery or whether the group will vote against it as a bloc.
Senate Democratic leaders could decide to roll the lottery into the budget as a way to win Democratic votes.
Or, the Senate could package the lottery with increases in cigarette or alcohol taxes -- increases Senate Democrats have tried to persuade the House to pass for several years.
"We will consider things such as that," Basnight said. "We like those taxes."
Kinnaird said that such a combination is the only way she could vote for a lottery.
"The lottery is a bad idea unless they put it with a tobacco tax and alcohol tax," she said. "If they packaged it, I would be hard put to vote against it."
House Speaker Jim Black warned that any tinkering could jeopardize the one-vote lottery majority in his chamber.
"If it comes back to us, depending on the changes, it would be a very delicate balance," he said. "I don't want to deal with this any more."