06/07/04 — Rogers’ idea: A state lottery? Why not casinos?

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Rogers’ idea: A state lottery? Why not casinos?

Raleigh News & Observer columnist Dennis Rogers has a large and appreciative following. Consequently, he undoubtedly is getting considerable feedback from a piece he did in the June 2 edition.

He advocated canning the notion of a state lottery and opting for “a lot of big casinos.” Rogers pointed out that Las Vegas is the fastest growing city inthe nation and enjoys a thriving economy, fine programs for young people, first class medical care,great restaurants and “big-time shopping and entertainment.” And, he noted, it has more churches than casinos.

He did not mention crime. Presumably, however, Las Vegas can well afford a top-flight police department.

Nor did Rogers get into an extensive discussion of the moral aspects of the city’s economic abundance.

But if North Carolina elects to institute a state lottery, as is advocated by Gov. Mike Easley, the bridge of morality already will have been crossed.

This newspaper is on record as opposing a state lottery. This is based not only on some moral reservations but on the fact that it would attract money from many who least could afford to lose it and that lottery income can be unpredictable.

It also flies in the face of the state’s historic opposition to “gambling.” However, we already have a casino on the Cherokee reservation. Rogers reported that it attracted three million tourists and is netting almost $160 million. And much of that probably is out-of-state money. Casinos also tend to attract the well-heeled rather than the very poor.

If this state is going to be serious about a lottery — and that is a mighty big if — it might do well to reflect on Dennis Rogers’ thoughts. The potential for crime must be cranked into the equation. And there are places such as Atlantic City, N.J., which would merit study.

The very idea of our state inviting casinos as a way to promote a soaring economy is an anathema to many among us. But if we’re going to gear up to operate a state lottery ...

Published in Editorials on June 7, 2004 11:21 AM