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North Carolina legislators are taking aim at the lottery and those who purchase tickets they don’t feel should have access to the game. House Majority Leader Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam (R) is helping draft a bill that would block welfare recipients, those in bankruptcy and those on probation from purchasing lottery tickets and would punish lottery ticket vendors from selling to those they knew were in either circumstance.
It seems Stam has a particular vendetta against the lottery itself and told ABC affiliate Channel 11 that the lottery “is essentially a scam” and that advertising done by the North Carolina lottery is “just fraudulent.” Supposing this sketchy legislation is passed, how would it be enforced? Stam says that the first way would be in obvious cases where vendors see people pay for groceries with food stamps, should refuse to sell them lottery tickets.
He said this legislation will be drafted for the coming legislative session, but that he is not trying to repeal the lottery, he just wants to make it “a more honest lottery.” One has to wonder how bankruptcy got tacked onto this legislation. It’s the poorest in North Carolina that spend the most per capita on lottery tickets, but these people are not necessarily similar to those who file bankruptcy.
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Many people who work in good paying jobs and aren’t collecting public assistance have to file for bankruptcy because their debt has become unmanageable, a catastrophic life event has dealt them some financial hiccups and they needed a clean slate to get their financial house back in order. This is not a correlation to being on public assistance and collecting government checks.
Stam told Channel 11, “We're giving them welfare to help them live, and yet by selling them a ticket, we're taking away their money that is there to provide them the barest of necessities.” That may be true for those on public assistance, but is categorically untrue for many bankruptcy filers. Persons filing bankruptcy are receiving relief from private, not public debt.
Concerns about welfare or food stamp recipients spending public funds on lottery tickets may be legitimate, but bankruptcy does not dismiss any public debts such as federal student loan debt or tax liabilities (some tax liabilities may be written off in bankruptcy, but this is not always the case). Those in bankruptcy – whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 – are not receiving any payments from anyone and are in no way the recipients of public funds associated with their filing.
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And how did persons in bankruptcy get lumped in with probationers? Probationers are criminals of one sort or another – some for very serious crimes. It’s almost as if Stam views those in bankruptcy as criminals – and certainly seems to see them as some sort of drain on the system. In fact, the opposite is true. MoneyNews.com reports that “The availability of personal bankruptcy is helping the United States return to economic growth.”
The concerns about lottery advertising may be legitimate. Often it seems as if losing money is much more fun than it actually is when your odds of winning are so terribly low. Perhaps Stam has some valid concerns about welfare recipients as well if public funds are being used to gamble, but it seems like this could be addressed better by the lottery commission than putting pressure on clerks who sell the tickets. If the lottery agrees not to hand out prizes to those on public assistance, that may stem the tide somewhat. As for probationers, if there is no overarching low against gambling, why would they not be allowed to play?
Image source: NYTimes.com
If you are deep in debt and considering your options, understand that filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not gambling with your future, but a tool to help you have one. The goal of bankruptcy is to allow you a fresh start to rebuild your financial stability. A qualified, reputable bankruptcy attorney who can guide you through the steps and advise you on best options for your unique circumstances is a necessity.
Dedicated to helping residents of North Carolina find the best solutions to their debt problems. Don’t waste another day worrying about your debt. Call 1-888-234-4181 today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your bankruptcy options.