Mar 27, 2006, 6:19 pm
Days before North Carolina launches its lottery with scratch-off ticket sales, television and radio ads are being rolled out across the state. But the publisher of one small paper in eastern North Carolina says he's not going to be taking any lottery advertising.
"A scam carried out by our state government is no less a scam," wrote Bart Adams, publisher and editor of The Daily Record of Dunn, in a column last week. "And ads from the North Carolina Lottery Commission which will no doubt entice people to fork over hard-earned cash on empty promises of instant riches would conflict with our efforts to give readers honest and accurate information."
Adams' newspaper is the only one in the state known to have taken such a stand - and it may be in vain. A lottery spokeswoman said Monday that print advertising is not a part of the marketing blitz for the lottery's March 30 launch.
"We thought we would start with TV and radio to reach the most people," said Pam Walker of the North Carolina Education Lottery, which has budgeted $1.9 million for advertising through June.
Walker said she knew of no TV or radio stations that had declined to take the lottery's advertisements, which began airing Monday.
North Carolina is the last state on the East Coast to launch a lottery. Legislative leaders who blocked approval of lottery proposals for years before finally passing it last year said they were partially swayed by the amount of North Carolina money that was being spent on neighboring states' games. But many opponents have complained lotteries, with their ready availability and longshot jackpots, attract players who are disproportionate poor.
In the column he published Friday, Adams wrote that his newspaper's "greatest asset is our readers' trust that we are doing our best to be honest and accurate."
He said the paper will publish the lottery numbers, since those qualify as news, and will carry ads from merchants who want to advertise that they offer lottery tickets.
"We're not trying to interfere with people participating in the lottery," he wrote. "We just don't want to take part in luring readers into a sucker's bet."
The Daily Record, which has a circulation of just over 10,000, serves Harnett County south of Raleigh, including the communities of Benson, Buies Creek, Lillington and Newton Grove.
In an interview Monday, Adams said he had not received any complaints from readers. Adams said he views refusing to publish lottery advertising as no different from keeping horoscopes or advertisements for get-rich-quick schemes out of the paper.
"Why would we want to intentionally mislead our readers?" he said. "I just look at the lottery as a scam. We don't accept ads for stuffing envelopes at home. We don't run those, and I don't see much difference."
By law, the lottery's advertising may not try to entice people to play with false promises of riches or by denigrating the work ethic. All lottery advertising also must include disclaimers that state the odds of winning and include a hotline number for compulsive gamblers.
Adams isn't buying the restrictions.
"If it wasn't designed to entice people the play the games, why would they advertise?" he said.
The head of the North Carolina Press Association, a newspaper industry group, said she knows of no other papers in the state that have taken the Daily Record's position.
"I think every newspaper needs to follow its conscience," NCPA executive director Beth Grace said. "They have readers to serve and they know best what their readers need and want."
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