Recipients of food stamps and other forms of public assistance -- as well as people who have filed for bankruptcy protection -- in North Carolina may be banned from purchasing lottery tickets.
State Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, a Republican who is the North Carolina House speaker pro tempore, is spearheading a movement to restrict the sale of lottery tickets to those in bankruptcy proceedings or on welfare on the basis that the lottery preys on those of modest means who do not understand the odds involved, according to the News & Observer in Raleigh.
“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 told the News & Observer.
North Carolina has a population of about 9.7 million, and roughly 2.3 million of them receive food stamps, supplemental income, or some other form of welfare. Within the state, 14.6 percent of residents live below the poverty line, while the North Carolina Education Lottery brings in more than $1.4 billion each year, according to NC Policy Watch.
NC Policy Watch also pointed out that residents in impoverished areas of North Carolina buy lottery tickets at rates much higher than those in other areas of the state. In some highly impoverished counties of the state, the annual purchases of lottery tickets amount to more than $400 per capita.
The lottery ban for those who are either in bankruptcy proceedings or on welfare is only one of many proposed lottery reforms in North Carolina.
Stam is also working to remove the word “Education” from the name of the North Carolina Education Lottery. "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," Stam said.
Stam said the lottery tricks low-income people into buying tickets because many don’t understand the odds involved. He also said that lotteries do not state the true winning amounts in their advertisements because the winnings are diminished by taxes, among other things. Stam called the practice “just fraudulent.”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, historically an opponent of lottery bans, has taken a stand against Stam’s proposal to ban ticket sales to those on welfare.
"The NAACP didn't agree with the lottery to start with," the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, told United Press International. "Rather than Mr. Stam having a side argument, ask him to stop blocking labor rights for poor people and working people. Ask him to have a real conversation about real wage."
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.