Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2007

While the college application process may resemble a game of chance these days, that’s no justification for using collegiate sporting events to encourage gambling. UNC President Erskine Bowles should be commended for firmly stating that ads for the North Carolina lottery are no longer welcome at university sporting venues.
Bowles acted after the N.C. legislature failed to act. A proposed ban on lottery ads at college events didn’t make it through the legislative process this year (a similar ban on high school events awaits action in the Senate). But as head of the university system, Bowles has the authority to nix the lottery advertising contracts. That will cost the colleges some revenue; in the past nine months, the lottery spent more than $385,000 to advertise the lottery during games. But it’s no bargain when public schools are paid to promote gambling at venues where the majority of the fans are students.
Bowles put it in these plain terms: “While it is legal for our students who are 18 or older to participate in the lottery, the lottery is nonetheless a form of gambling, and I feel strongly that we should not encourage gambling by our students.”
Although the university system benefits from lottery money, it shouldn’t come at the cost of enticing college students to pony up for the state’s games of chance. There are plenty of other advertising options. Lottery officials don’t need to push the numbers racket on campuses.