North Carolina is attempting to ban selling lottery tickets to those who are on welfare or have filed bankruptcy. The proposed ban would affect more than 1.7 million people in the state.
The Raleigh News Observer interviewed State Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam who said he hopes to present the proposal in the upcoming 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," he said.
He knows there might be some difficulty over determining who is eligible for lottery tickets when they buy them. Stam said in obvious cases, where the customer is paying for groceries with food stamps, they should not be allowed to buy tickets.
Stam said the ban would protect consumers who often fall prey to deceptive advertising by the lottery. The lottery usually attracts lower-income people who don't realize the low chances of winning.
"What they are talking about is making it a more honest lottery," he said. Lottery advertisements usually boast about the large cash payouts, but they don't explain the odds of winning and also fail to note the huge tax deductions that cut winnings down.
North Carolina's lottery tickets are normally sold in impoverished counties. North Carolina Policy watch said all but two of the 20 poorest counties sell lottery tickets at a higher-than-average rate.
But the NAACP has opposed lottery bans in the past.
"The NAACP didn't agree with the lottery to start with," Rev. William Barber, North Carolina NAACP president. "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."
Of North Carolina's 9.7 million residents, nearly a quarter (2.3 million) are on some type of supplemental income.