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Judge: N.C. lottery can keep working, but challenge remains alive

North Carolina LotteryNorth Carolina Lottery: Judge: N.C. lottery can keep working, but challenge remains alive

The North Carolina lottery can continue preparing for a March 30 kickoff while a court considers a legal challenge to the way the Legislature passed the lottery law last year, a Wake County judge ruled Wednesday.

The decision is somewhat of a loss for both parties in the legal fight. While Superior Court Judge Henry Hight denied a motion by taxpayers, lawmakers and advocacy groups who sought to temporarily stop work on the lottery, he also declined the state's request to dismiss the complaint completely.

Hight wrote that he denied a preliminary injunction in part because "the harm and inconvenience to the defendants and others far outweighs any harm" to those who filed the complaint.

Hight said a hearing on the merits of the case would be held March 20.

The plaintiffs who filed the complaint argued the House and Senate each violated the state constitution by passing a lottery bill with only one recorded vote. Two separate recorded votes were required of each chamber on separate days, according to the complaint.

State attorneys argued in court Monday that the constitution only requires votes on separate days for laws that lead to higher taxes or borrow against the state's credit, and the lottery does neither.

Jeanette Doran Brooks with the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, a lawyer representing some of the plaintiffs, said the orders mean the judge believes her clients have legal standing to seek the challenge. State attorneys had argued otherwise.

"We definitely see it as a victory," Brooks said.

The state Attorney General's Office, which represented lottery officials, Gov. Mike Easley and State Treasurer Richard Moore in the case, declined to comment on the rulings. A North Carolina Education Lottery spokes didn't immediately have a response to Hight's decision.

Hight or another judge could still decide later to block the lottery's work if the judge agrees that the General Assembly violated the constitution.

Such a ban almost assuredly would delay the sales of the scratch-off tickets that are scheduled to begin in about six weeks.

Lottery executive director Tom Shaheen said Tuesday he anticipated that the legal promises by vendor GTECH Holdings Corp. to begin ticket sales by March 30, as well as financial penalties for missing the date, would be suspended if the lottery is blocked.

The House approved the lottery bill last April by a 61-59 vote. In August, the Senate needed a tie-breaking vote from Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue for the measure to pass 25-24. Neither chamber held the bill over for a second roll-call vote the next day, pushing it through on voice votes despite calls for delay from lottery opponents. Easley signed the bill.

Hight's ruling allows lottery law challengers to argue that the game would unconstitutionally raise money against the state's credit and good name, since there was no second, recorded vote. They want the courts to strike down any lottery-related contracts and void a $10 million loan to the lottery commission for start-up costs.

The General Assembly could return for a special session to approve the lottery law using the procedure the plaintiffs favor if the lottery law is ultimately struck down. Passage could be questionable given the narrow votes last year.

AP

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17 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by cps10.
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cps10's avatar - Lottery-004.jpg
The Carolinas - Charlotte
United States
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September 12, 2005
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Posted: February 16, 2006, 10:54 am - IP Logged

Why do I have that cold clammy feeling about this lottery all of a sudden?

Tenaj? A little help please?

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    Northern California
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    Posted: February 16, 2006, 12:57 pm - IP Logged

    Who can say how this judge will rule?

     The argument seems simple - taxes are generally defined as payments that government can force to be collected. No one has to participate in the lottery.

     Shaheen's point about GTECH is well taken.  This would clearly constitute force majeur - I would anticipate GTECH would get an extension on the deadline on a day-for-day basis. I would also anticipate that GTECH might assume the risk to continue development work on its own if they chose to do so - though I don't think they could install equipment in retailers until the green light was given. Still, they could (and I would guess would) ship a battalion of field techs to NC to blast through the installations - that's one of the most straightforward parts of the project as long as the lottery has its act together and stays out of the way.

    I bet Shaheen would get a day-for-day extension on his bonus too  :)

      Tenaj's avatar - michellea
      Charlotte NC
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      June 18, 2005
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      Posted: February 16, 2006, 6:58 pm - IP Logged

      Why do I have that cold clammy feeling about this lottery all of a sudden?

      Tenaj? A little help please?

      Yes NodI think they bought the judge and the legal battle will make a lot of money for him and the lawyers.  The lottery will not stop.  It's just drama. Don't forget the kind of people we are dealing with. Look at  CMS.   What does that say to you? 

      At one point I was going to boycott the NC lottery until they got pick 3 and 4 but I think I will support them now.  They need all the support they can get.

      takeemtothebank

        cps10's avatar - Lottery-004.jpg
        The Carolinas - Charlotte
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        Posted: February 16, 2006, 7:12 pm - IP Logged

        Tenaj

        You are probably right about that. And yes, CMS could use a LOT of help!

          Tenaj's avatar - michellea
          Charlotte NC
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          June 18, 2005
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          Posted: February 16, 2006, 11:22 pm - IP Logged

          Why do I have that cold clammy feeling about this lottery all of a sudden?

          Tenaj? A little help please?

          Yes NodI think they bought the judge and the legal battle will make a lot of money for him and the lawyers.  The lottery will not stop.  It's just drama. Don't forget the kind of people we are dealing with. Look at  CMS.   What does that say to you? 

          At one point I was going to boycott the NC lottery until they got pick 3 and 4 but I think I will support them now.  They need all the support they can get.

          Yes NodCPs10, I just saw on the news that Cigarettes and More on Pineville-Matthews will be the first to get a ticket terminal to play the NC lottery.  They said it will be installed tomorrow. 

           

           

           

          takeemtothebank

            cps10's avatar - Lottery-004.jpg
            The Carolinas - Charlotte
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            Posted: February 17, 2006, 9:10 am - IP Logged

            Tenaj I wonder if that is near Pineville? Closer to the border to get more people involved from SC?

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              Posted: February 17, 2006, 2:56 pm - IP Logged

              Gtech will continue to install the terminals as fast as they can.As far as they are concern they have the March 30 deadline to meet.In their view,if there are no changes to the law,Gtech has to be ready to run on March 30 or face large fines.I'm sure they want to avoid that by getting the network ready to go.

                cps10's avatar - Lottery-004.jpg
                The Carolinas - Charlotte
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                Posted: February 17, 2006, 3:08 pm - IP Logged

                NCPicks

                Why would they need terminals now if all they are offering for the time being is scratch offs?

                 

                The North Carolina Education Lottery - so much a joke that here are their mascots:

                Stooges

                  Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                  Charlotte NC
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                  Posted: February 17, 2006, 3:11 pm - IP Logged

                  NCPicks

                  Why would they need terminals now if all they are offering for the time being is scratch offs?

                   

                  ConfusedThe dummies are going to bring powerball first.  More people play pick 3 and 4 than powerball.  People don't play powerball everyday like pick 3 and 4.  There will learn when it hit them in the pocket.

                  takeemtothebank

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                    Posted: February 17, 2006, 6:48 pm - IP Logged

                    Even scratch off tickets must be verified thru the terminals so that the tickets are shown to be real and so they can't be paid off twice.

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                      Posted: February 17, 2006, 6:56 pm - IP Logged

                      I should have said "...so they can't be paid off more than once."

                      I think you see what I ment. 

                        Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                        Charlotte NC
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                        Posted: February 17, 2006, 6:56 pm - IP Logged

                        Even scratch off tickets must be verified thru the terminals so that the tickets are shown to be real and so they can't be paid off twice.

                        Yes NodAnd to print out Powerball tickets as well.  Pick 3 or 4 is said to be coming in the fall.  It's interesting to see who get terminals.

                        takeemtothebank

                          cps10's avatar - Lottery-004.jpg
                          The Carolinas - Charlotte
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                          Posted: February 17, 2006, 8:45 pm - IP Logged

                          Hopefully the convenience store that is 2 blocks from my house will have one...but at worst case scenario, there are three convenience stores at the corner of Randolph & Sharon Amity.

                          The North Carolina Education Lottery - so much a joke that here are their mascots:

                          Stooges

                            Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                            Charlotte NC
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                            June 18, 2005
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                            Posted: February 19, 2006, 6:22 pm - IP Logged

                            Hopefully the convenience store that is 2 blocks from my house will have one...but at worst case scenario, there are three convenience stores at the corner of Randolph & Sharon Amity.

                            Hurray!There's a list of the places who will have the terminals in the Charlotte Observer in Saturday, Feb. 18th's paper.  It's mostly Food Lions.LOL  If they had went with the "not this distance from a church", a lot of places wouldn't qualified for a license.

                             

                            takeemtothebank