Start Scratching -- NC Lottery Debuts

Wilmington, NC – Green Play Here signs were already in store windows throughout Wilmington when state senator Julia Boseman and state school board member Tricia Willoughby officially cut the ribbon on the city's Lottery Claim Center, one of the six around the state. After buying her tickets, Boseman commented on the controversy over how lottery proceeds will be divvied up the southeast's rapidly appreciating real estate market has pushed real housing values above their assessed amount, an imbalance which drives something called the effective tax rate down below the state average. It's that relationship, between a county's effective tax and the state's average effective tax rate, that determines how some of the money will be distributed. Among the counties getting a smaller share of the funds are New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender. Boseman said she knows her battle for lottery funds isn't over.

I've been working on this since, gosh, before it seems like I was even elected. But it was a long road, and I assure you that I'm going to fight for New Hanover County, to make sure we get our fair share of everything here.

Joseph McArthur was among the early birds buying tickets at a gas station on Market street. McArthur won a dollar, for the three he spent, but doesn't expect to play very often.

I'm not a big gambler, McArthur said, but you know, I don't mind playing a dollar here or there. Who knows, you might get lucky.

Governor Mike Easley chose to celebrate today's lottery kick-off at a school in Leland to highlight the education funding the lottery will provide. Standing outside Lincoln Elementary School's More at Four classroom, the governor predicted lottery proceeds could more than double enrollment the pre-kindergarten program. Easley stressed that lottery money must augment current state education spending, instead of replacing it, and said he will continue to push for a constitutional amendment to guarantee that.
The legislature knows very well, that if there's any supplanting, or if it's not an education lottery, if it goes for something other than education, they generally don't do very well.

Easley also said some school construction money from the corporate tax fund may be shifted to counties receiving a disproportionately small amount of the lottery money. 35% of the total proceeds from the games are earmarked for education, an amount officials hope will top four hundred million dollars annually. More than five thousand retailers around the state are currently licensed to sell tickets.

Megan Williams, WHQR news.