When Virginia's General Assembly passed legislation last year permitting a state lottery, opponents took solace in an amendment that forbade advertising "for the primary purpose of inducing" people to buy lottery tickets.

Some lawmakers thought that was a fatal flaw in the legislation, and worried that revenue from the lottery would be anemic as a result.

Not so, state lottery director Ken Thorson said yesterday in Richmond. While the lottery is not scheduled to start until late spring or summer, Thorson said he expects the restriction on advertising to have little effect.

The reason: the little-noted words "primary purpose" in the new state law. Thorson said lottery ads could indeed induce people to play, as long as that is not their "primary purpose." In other words, the ads will be full of information about how and where to buy lottery tickets -- with a little inducement sprinkled throughout.

Thorson's comments came in the first meeting of Virginia's lottery board. The board choseformer state senator William F. Parkerson Jr. as its chairman.

Thorson also said he has asked for loans from the state treasury of up to $15 million to get the lottery off the ground.

It is unlikely, he said, that lottery tickets will be sold by any state agency other than ABC stores.