Pigs have a better chance to fly

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2006

You and I will be able to contribute to the education of North Carolina’s public school students bright and early Thursday morning. All the while, we could add to our pocket-books and become big winners.

The first tickets for the new North Carolina Education Lottery will go on sale around the state at 6 a.m. on March 30. You will have the choice of over 50 locations to buy your tickets in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

These tickets will consist of four scratch-off games with winning prizes ranging from a free ticket to $100,000. The lottery will change peoples’ lives; some for the better, but many more for the worst.

I have heard and seen all the arguments, pro and con, for the lottery, but one thing is for sure, some people will spend money on lottery tickets with money intended for something more important. Whether that is a car payment, rent, medicine, food, or new shoes for their children, it is going to happen and that is sad.

It is certainly not my place to tell you how to spend your money, but I am simply asking that you be cautious and make sure that those dollars spent on lottery tickets are disposable. In other words, be prepared to be without the money spent on tickets.

Here is something to think about. 103 million tickets will hit the statewide market Thursday morning. Of those, 22.29 million will be winning tickets or roughly 22 percent of the total tickets.

However, only 10,579 of those 22 million winning tickets will be worth $100 or more. The percentage of winning tickets worth $100 or more is .0004%.

You have better odds betting that George Mason University will win the Final Four than winning 100 bucks on a scratch off game.

The odds of winning the really big bucks on the multi-state Powerball game are pretty staggering as well. North Carolina will join 28 other states in the Powerball game on May 30. The odds of matching all the numbers and winning big are 1 in 146 million, according to the Powerball website.

The state is saying that 52% of the funds generated by the sale of lottery tickets will be returned as winnings. The namesake of the lottery, education, will get 35% of the funds. That is the plan anyway. We will wait and see if the money makes any local impact.

Some of our school systems are already spending that money, amounts of money that are nothing more than estimates and guesses.

I think allocating or planning for those funds is dangerous for our local school boards. Given that these amounts are just estimates at this point and that we happen to be in the middle of an election year, I think our school boards are being sold a bill of goods.

The state has already established a gambling addiction unit through the Department of Social Services. Why did the state do that? Because it is going to be needed.

Let’s hope that the addiction unit will be like the Maytag repairman, bored to death, but I know that the odds of that are like the odds of winning $100 on a scratch-off ticket.