A costly gamble

By: - August 4, 2005 5:14 am

Raleigh News & Observer

It appears that the lottery in one form or another is going to pass in the General Assembly. It’s very interesting that, while arguments are being made to support it, the costs to North Carolina citizens are rarely stated.

Based on the experience of other states, only 35 percent of the lottery profits will go to state needs. The rest is spent on winnings, the payments to stores that sell tickets and the lottery infrastructure. Tennessee, for example, pays over $250,000 a year for the salary of the lottery director. In order to get the $450 million that the governor wants from the lottery, North Carolina citizens will have to spend well over $1 billion a year on lottery tickets. That is considerably more that the $300 million that they currently spend on tickets in Virginia and South Carolina.

There will be other costs, in increased law enforcement for the crime that will accompany the lottery and increased mental health services for the gambling addictions that will result.

Many people think that the lottery is just a game or a way to get rich quickly. It’s a lot more than that. It is a very expensive program for any state’s citizens. Failing to inform the citizens of the lottery’s costs is as dishonest as is the promise to many of millions from a single lottery ticket.

Tanya Suarez


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066