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SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Alabama’s a gambling state but with no lottery

North Carolina sold $6.5 million in tickets Thursday when the Tar Heels became the last state along the East Coast to start a lottery.

Officials expect the lottery to add some $400 million to the state's education budget each year. But, like in Alabama, getting an education lottery in North Carolina wasn't easy. The effort goes back nearly a quarter of a century to when a state senator from Forsyth introduced a bill that ultimately died in the Legislature.

Five years later, Virginia got a lottery. Then Georgia started one. So did South Carolina and Tennessee.

And, like Alabama, North Carolina saw its gambling dollars cross state lines to support other schools.

How can the 38 states and the District of Columbia that have lotteries all be so wrong? That number doesn't include Nevada and Mississippi where casinos dominate the gambling industry.

North Carolina is about as conservative as Alabama, yet its leaders finally realized that it makes no sense to send people elsewhere to play the lottery. In Alabama, it makes even less sense because of the virtual casinos that go by the name of Sweepstakes and other names.

Big time gambling is here and the state isn't getting any revenue that schools badly need. Fancy computers linked to the Internet that look like slot machines operate around the clock.

Alabama treats gambling the way Great Britain handled sex during the Victorian period. If nobody talks about it, it's not happening.

Maybe we will wake up soon and stop the flow of education dollars out of the state.

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