Key facts:

  • The North Carolina Education Lottery was sold as a way to boost education spending in this state, but research shows that has been a false promise of education lotteries: states without education lotteries maintained and increased education spending more than states with lotteries.
  • N.C. boasts the same problem found in other lottery states: a declining rate of spending for education, especially in comparison with the rest of the state budget.
  • Lottery funds replacing rather than supplementing education spending has been a problem in North Carolina since before the first lottery ticket was even sold.
  • Poverty, unemployment, and property tax rates remain the best predictors of a county’s lottery sales.
  • Eight of the top ten counties in lottery sales per adult were among the most economically distressed counties in the state.
  • The lottery is a state funding source that many North Carolinians find immoral out of either religious belief or concern for social justice or both.
  • In the lottery, the state has erected a very costly system of capturing money from citizens that converts just a small portion of it into education funding.
  • The best possible reform to address all those concerns would be to end the state lottery and return to a more honest, direct form of education funding. The state’s dire financial picture is a clarion call for root-and-branch reform, and there are several education reforms that could be featured.
  • Another reform, deregulated gambling, would allow industries to develop and compete in the state, creating jobs, buttressing the economy, and contributing through responsible taxation to education spending and the General Fund.
  • At the very least, state policymakers should reform the lottery so as to use education proceeds more effectively.

Spotlight 405 Just Not Worth the Gamble: The NC Education Lottery’s many problems have a common solution