Lottery Would Use Children to Promote Gambling
Special Report - February 11, 2008
A television commercial that would use four-year-olds from a Cumberland County pre-school program to advertise the North Carolina Education Lottery is drawing fire from a state senator, according to the Fayetteville Observer. The commercial, which was filmed by lottery officials on February 5 at Fayetteville State University’s (FSU) Early Childhood Learning Center, featured several children and their parents who participate in the center’s “More at Four” programa state-funded pre-school program for at-risk four-year-olds. After learning of the commercial on February 5, State Senator Larry Shaw (D-Cumberland) accused lottery officials of specifically targeting black people through the ad. “They are targeting black kids to get black folks to buy lottery tickets,” Sen. Shaw told the newspaper. “Why pick black kids in Fayetteville? Because they think here they will get the least resistance.” Sen. Shaw also objected to the use of children to advertise gambling. “If they want to use Vegas-style women, finethey are adults. But don’t use children,” Shaw said. “Would you use young kids to sell liquor?” In response to Shaw’s accusations, Pam Walker, communications director for the state lottery, told the Fayetteville Observer that the commercial was only intended to show how lottery dollars are spent.
“The fact that North Carolina lottery officials are willing to use children to advertise the lottery shows how desperate they are to convince our citizens to spend their hard-earned money on lottery tickets,” said NCFPC president, Bill Brooks. “No matter how you spin it, the lottery is still gambling, and the North Carolina Education Lottery should be ashamed of using innocent four-year-olds to peddle this dangerous vice to the public.”
The lottery ad has raised other concerns. The Fayetteville Observer reports that FSU’s decision to allow the lottery commercial to be filmed on its campus may be in violation of a UNC policy regarding lottery advertising by state universities. As we reported last July, University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles sent a memo to the chancellors of all 16 universities in the state, calling for an end to lottery advertising at UNC collegiate sporting events. Bowles wrote in the memo: “I recently became aware that the North Carolina Lottery Commission has been advertising the North Carolina lottery at various university athletic events across the state…I ask that you eliminate this practice going forward. While it is legal for our students who are 18 or older to participate in the lottery, the lottery is nonetheless a form of gambling, and I feel strongly that we should not encourage gambling by our students. . . For this reason, I urge you to refrain from entering into any further advertising sponsorship agreements with the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission and ask that you terminate any existing agreements as soon as feasible to do so.”
Legislation was introduced in the 2007 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly to prohibit lottery advertising at collegiate and high school sporting events and venues. The House Finance Committee, however, removed the collegiate advertising ban from HB 461-Lottery Advertising Compliance Act at the request of the N.C. Lottery Commission. The following week, Bowles issued his memo to the chancellors.
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