Editorial: Billion buzz has to wait this time

Dec. 18, 2013 @ 06:17 PM

Two tickets were big winners Tuesday night. The billion dollar frenzy, and that would be putting it mildly, will have to wait this time.

A few Christmas lists may have been busted as well. At least, the big potential punch on them.

In some places, family and friends exchange lottery tickets this time of year. To each his own we suppose. But we’d also be happy to join the National Council on Problem Gambling, which campaigns against giving lottery products as holiday gifts to minors.

We can understand wanting to give someone a million dollars. Or at least, being able to say, “It’s the thought that counts.”

For most of us, lottery products aren’t exactly our idea of a gift in adoration. But then, all kinds of stories begin with, “Guess what I found under the tree?”

We do not endorse or object to anyone playing our state’s lottery games. We respect individuals’ rights to participate in legal activities, and expect everyone to be responsible no matter what activity with which they are engaged.

An estimated $636 million was in the jackpot for the Mega Millions in the drawing. But while that buzz is enough, there was even more adrenaline flowing on the possibility of Friday’s drawing hitting $1 billion. What a Christmas and New Year’s that could have been.

The allure of big jackpots draw many who normally scoff at the chance. But there’s a time and place for gifts to children. Lottery products are not on that list, even if we do want our children to be financially secure.

Tucked to the side of its website, the N.C. Education Lottery declares its primary purpose is fun and entertainment as a way to raise money for education in North Carolina. It also says to play responsibly.

There are warning signs, and the Problem Gambling Helpline is a good resource. Like the lottery folks in Raleigh, we recommend it for those who realize they need it or have loved ones with trouble. The number is toll free at (877) 718-5543, and information is available online at morethanagamenc.com.

And, for those really in it just to help education, always remember the local schools regularly have volunteer opportunities. There are lots of winners there.