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N.C. anti-lottery trying to halt all progress on games

Jan 2, 2006, 10:24 am

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North Carolina Lottery

An anti-lottery legal foundation wants a judge to prevent the North Carolina Education Lottery from doing any work while a lawsuit challenging the lottery's passage in the Legislature is heard.

In a filing late Friday in Wake County Superior Court, Robert Orr with the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law filed a motion asking a judge to order the lottery commission to stop operating for now.

The proposed preliminary injunction also would keep state officials from loaning the commission up to $10 million for startup costs and bar the commission from entering into vendor or retailer contracts.

Two weeks ago, Orr sued of several groups and two legislators, arguing the 61-59 state House vote approving the lottery was invalid because the bill wasn't considered on three separate days, as required by the state constitution.

Allowing the lottery work to continue would cause "immediate and irreparable injury" to his clients and other citizens and taxpayers because the lottery law is a "constitutionally infirm statute," Orr wrote.

Gov. Mike Easley and House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, argue the vote was legal because lottery profits don't meet the legal definition of revenue. Bills that would generate higher sales and income taxes require three days of consideration.

A preliminary injunction could hamper efforts to get the first scratch-off tickets sold by early April and the multistate Powerball numbers game underway in early July. The lottery commission is accepting bids for two major vending contracts.

A spokesman with the Attorney General's Office, which is representing the state, lottery officials, Easley and State Treasurer Richard Moore in the lawsuit, had not seen the motion late Friday and declined to comment. A date for a hearing on the motion wasn't immediately known.

The lawsuit ultimately asks that state courts void the lottery law and cancel all lottery contracts for games scheduled to start by April. A new lottery bill could be reconsidered in the Legislature should the lawsuit succeed.

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