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N.C. Lottery moves ahead after favorable court ruling

North Carolina LotteryNorth Carolina Lottery: N.C. Lottery moves ahead after favorable court ruling

State judge says games came about legally; opponents may appeal

North Carolina's new lottery is on schedule to begin selling tickets March 30, after a state judge declined yesterday to stop it and after the top attorney for lottery opponents said he probably won't ask for an immediate stop to the games.

The long-term status of the lottery is less clear, though, as lottery opponents consider appeals to higher courts.

Among the opponents are several research groups from Raleigh, including the conservative N.C. Family Policy Council and the liberal Common Sense Foundation. They sued the state in December, arguing that state legislators violated the North Carolina Constitution last year by rushing their votes to create a lottery.

The constitution sometimes requires that legislators vote three times on three separate days - for example, when they're deciding on tax bills or bills that pledge the credit of the state. Legislative leaders and their attorneys argue that the lottery vote did not fit any of those cases.

Judge Henry Hight of Wake Superior Court sided with legislative leaders yesterday, after hearing arguments in the case Monday.

A "tax is a forced contribution to government which has no necessary immediate relationship to a benefit conferred," Hight wrote. The lottery, he added, "allows a person to voluntarily purchase a lottery ticket and receive immediately in return the opportunity to win a prize."

Lottery opponents had not decided yesterday afternoon whether they would appeal the ruling, said Robert Orr, the lead attorney for the lottery opponents and a former justice on the N.C. Supreme Court. An appeal might go directly to the N.C. Supreme Court if a majority of the seven justices agree to hear it, he said.

"This is not a single-elimination tournament. There are other games to be played," Orr said.

He would not rule out asking a higher court to stop the sale of lottery tickets next week while judges considered the merits of the case, but he said that it was unlikely.

"Realistically, that's a difficult circumstance in light of the fact that the trial court has ruled against us," Orr said. "As a practical matter, you can all probably take your April paychecks and buy scratch tickets."

Lottery director Tom Shaheen praised Hight's ruling. He said that the lottery continues to build its infrastructure, including lottery terminals in at least 4,381 stores statewide. Television ads are scheduled to start Monday.

Store workers who have signed up for training sessions have had a 99.9percent attendance rate.

"All of the pieces of the puzzle have to come together," Shaheen said. "We have to focus on that and nothing else. Whatever happens, happens. That's life."

Orr warned that the scheduled sale of tickets - and all the money the state is investing for start-up costs - would not dissuade potential appeals to higher courts.

"The state's going to have to proceed at its own risk," he said, "if this moves forward on appeal."

Four scratch-off games are scheduled to begin sales March 30. Tickets for the multistate Powerball game are expected to start two months later, followed by a daily numbers game in the fall.

Lottery sales are expected to be at least $1 billion a year.

After prizes and operating costs, about $425 million is expected to be spent on several education programs: 50 percent to hire more elementary-school teachers and to expand a pre-kindergarten program; 40 percent to help counties build schools; and 10 percent for college scholarships.

The money currently being spent for those purposes could be used for other government programs or for tax cuts.

Winston-Salem Journal

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5 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by wizeguy.
Page 1 of 1
United States
Member #12322
March 11, 2005
36 Posts
Posted: March 22, 2006, 8:50 am - IP Logged

Im really glad that those self proclaimed moralist were defeted.  It really seems that there's always a group that feels that they have the better mouse trap, or the need to save the people that don't need saving.  Really glad that the judge had his judicial glasses on.  No one is forced to buy a lottery ticket!

    Tenaj's avatar - michellea
    Charlotte NC
    United States
    Member #17406
    June 18, 2005
    4053 Posts
    Posted: March 23, 2006, 12:00 pm - IP Logged

    No NodThey will probably appeal it to try to finagle out of the court costs but end up paying more and in the mean time "we's gamblin now"lol


      north carolina/virginia
      United States
      Member #2097
      August 17, 2003
      126 Posts
      Posted: March 23, 2006, 2:31 pm - IP Logged

      Hi fellow North Carolina Player! I see you post right much, I look forward to our heads coming together in the future with Pick 3. I'm ready to get my database of pick 3 started!


        United States
        Member #26469
        November 18, 2005
        160 Posts
        Posted: March 23, 2006, 5:02 pm - IP Logged

        You'll be waiting until fall for the possibility of Pick 3 in N.C. ,but better late than never.

          wizeguy's avatar - animaniacs04

          United States
          Member #15143
          May 10, 2005
          414 Posts
          Posted: March 23, 2006, 7:09 pm - IP Logged

          I'm glad to see the judge saw things as they were. I rarely play scratchoffs but am looking forward to the short walk to get my Powerball tickets! Thumbs Up