Welfare lottery ban: N.C. lawmakers discuss prohibition for welfare recipients, the bankrupt

Rep. Paul 'Skip' Stam (R-Wake) said the measure is among several targeting the N.C. Education Lottery that may come up during the legislative session.

North Carolina lawmakers are discussing a draft proposal that would prohibit sales of lottery tickets to people who receive public assistance or who are in bankruptcy.

The Insider reports that Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, said the measure is among several targeting the N.C. Education Lottery that may come up during the legislative session.

"We're giving them welfare to help them live, and yet by selling them a ticket, we're taking away their money that is there to provide them the barest of necessities," Stam said.

Stam it would be difficult for store clerks to know which players get help. But Stam suggested that in obvious cases, such as when customers pay for groceries with food stamps, they shouldn't be allowed to buy lottery tickets at the same time.

Another proposal would remove the word "Education" from the N.C. Education Lottery for advertising purposes. Stam said the word "education" shouldn't be used to sell "something that is essentially a scam," especially because lottery proceeds account for a small percentage of state education funding.

"It's just inappropriate to take what is a very important function of state government ... and use that as a selling point, when obviously the more educated you are, the less likely you are to play the lottery," he said.

Stam said he believes many lottery ads are deceptive because they don't state the probabilities of winning particular prize amounts. The lottery advertises large cash payouts, he said, but the actual prizes are smaller after taxes and other deductions. The fact that the lottery doesn't give the actual values of prizes when advertising larger amounts is "just fraudulent," he said.

Alice Garland, executive director of the lottery, said last week that she believed taking "Education" out of the title would cut into lottery sales.

Lottery spokesman Van Denton said officials haven't fully reviewed all of the legislative proposals to gauge the impacts, but he did say the lottery tries to keep up with best practices in the industry, he said.

"We work hard to make sure players have the information they need to play the lottery ... and to make good choices about how to spend their money," Denton said.

Although the odds of winning each different prize amount aren't listed on each ticket, they are available on the lottery website and in the lottery "play centers" at retail locations. The lottery also publishes on its website the number of prizes remaining at all prize levels in scratch-off games.

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