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Darts and laurels

Dart to a proposal to add keno to the state’s lineup of lottery games. As lottery revenues fail to increase as fast as proponents promised, the state is continually looking for new ways to lure the gullible. While all lottery games are designed to part people from their cash, keno is particularly efficient at doing so. The odds of winning a big jackpot in keno are steep, and the games (in which players typically try to match between four and 20 numbers per drawing) are more frequent. In the Georgia lottery’s version of keno, for instance, a new drawing is held every four minutes or so. That’s like having your bookie on speed dial. It’s a given that the lottery will continue to introduce new games, but keno would put the state uncomfortably close to operating a virtual casino. Is that really what legislators had in mind when they created this perpetually mutating monster? Lottery officials should look elsewhere for a new source of revenue.
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Laurels to a minor change that could make life a little simpler for America’s veterans. Several states are adding a military service designation to veterans’ drivers licenses so they can prove eligibility for benefits, veterans discounts or other privileges without having to produce official discharge papers. A dozen states have passed the license provision, and at least four others are considering it, USA Today recently reported. North Carolina should follow suit. If we can do something like this for organ donors, we should be able to expedite a service designation for veterans.
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Dart to the fact that one-fifth of the N.C. General Assembly has already won election without a single ballot being cast. That’s the number of lawmakers — eight senators and 26 House members — who face no opposition this year. All together, they constitute a considerable chunk of state geography where voters, in effect, have no real choice in their representation. Didn’t Americans once fight a war over that? Still, this year is an improvement over 2010, when a total of 56 legislative candidates — almost a third of the 170-seat General Assembly — had no opposition. Incumbents and candidates who face no opposition might like to construe this as a statement about their popularity. In reality, it says more about the number of non-competitive districts — and the power of incumbency.

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