Local News

North Carolinians Head North To Win Big in Virginia Lottery

Posted March 31, 1999

— People cannot play it inNorth Carolina, at least not yet. So, many Tar Heels are flocking north of the border to play their luck in hopes of winning big at the lottery.

Virginia is making a large amount of money from North Carolinians playing a multi-state lottery that now has a $150 million jackpot.

A bill to bring a lottery to North Carolina has stalled in thelegislature. In the meantime, lotto lovers are being welcomed into Virginia with open arms.

The executive director of theVirginia Lotteryis on a goodwill tour of Virginia's border counties thanking out-of-state residents for their support.

While she knows her state may soon have competition from North Carolina, she is not panicking yet.

Penny Kyle, the Virginia Lottery's executive directorand a Virginia border county native, will spend the next few days thanking out-of-state customers for playing.

That is because they send more than $100 million of lottery money to Richmond each year.

Neither rain, sleet or snow will keep North Carolina residents from crossing the Virginia border when lotto fever hits.

"If you don't play, you can't win," said one lottery player.

"And we would hate to lose that. We'd hate to lose the money, and we'd hate to lose these good customers," said Kyle.

Pretty soon, the Virginia Lottery might lose those customers, because there is a new push to bring the lottery to North Carolina. Lottery leaders in Virginia do not seem too worried, yet.

"We don't have any specific game plan. We haven't seen that North Carolina has made any moves towards anything that's definite enough for us to devise a game plan," said Kyle.

But with North Carolina residents dumping thousands of dollars into the out-of-state lottery, the millions in the lottery lure could soon become too lucrative to ignore.

Until a lottery comes to North Carolina, Virginia will have to handle all the Tar Heels trying their luck.

North Carolina is one of 13 states without a lottery. Analysts say it could bring in up to $300 million a year.

Others say it could cost the state $36 million every year in lost sales taxes.


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