State News

NC lottery sales down, may miss goal by $40M

Posted December 15, 2010

N.C. Education Lottery

— North Carolina lottery commissioners estimated Wednesday the program will earn $40 million less than expected in the current year because of weak ticket sales — another financial blow for a state education system already bracing for budget cuts.

The North Carolina Education Lottery Commission revised its sales estimate in approving a new budget. That plan projects the lottery will be able to provide about $402 million for state education programs for the financial year ending in the middle of 2011, well below the $441 million initially projected.

Alice Garland, the acting executive director of the lottery, said officials were still striving to match the initial goal and hope that sales will start coming back.

“We still have more than six months of sales left in this fiscal year, and we remain committed to maximizing the amount of money for education that we can produce," Garland said in a statement. "The decision to revise our revenue projections, however, was necessary to offer a realistic picture of what expectations should be.”

Garland attributes the lower-than-expected sales to the prolonged economic slump, with consumers having less money to spend on entertainment. Officials also said a factor was that the multistate Powerball game has seen no major jackpots to attract interest.

Proceeds from the lottery go to fund education programs, such as class-size reduction, school construction and scholarships. Gov. Beverly Perdue has already warned of budget cuts in education, and federal stimulus money that helped support programs last year will be drying up in 2011.

Record sales last year helped send more than $419 million in net profits to education programs, the highest annual transfer since the lottery began in 2006.

Lottery officials are looking to improve sales with new games and continued focus on building a network of retailers. The program will add more drawings starting in February for its numbers pick-em games and plan to roll out an instant ticket game that includes a top prize of $200,000 a year for life.

"We're working very hard to turn this around and improve our sales picture," Garland said.

Also Wednesday, the lottery commission named its four finalists to succeed Tom Shaheen as director. Shaheen stepped down in September to take a position with a company involved in the sale of lottery tickets through ATMs.

Garland, Arkansas lottery executive David Barden, Massachusetts lottery director Mark Cavanagh and gaming consultant Philip Green are the finalists. The commission will conduct background checks on each and will interview them next month.


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  • RB-1 Dec 16, 2010

    The State should have planned on this happening with unemployment so high. No job = no lottery tickets, and the state knows the number of folks with no jobs now.

  • RB-1 Dec 16, 2010

    LS - "maybe if they would allow more winners in the Raleigh and surrounding areas they would have more players. Just look on their website of just the scratch off winners in noname towns with all of 1000 people."

    That's called fairness in the game.

  • bonnnie Dec 16, 2010

    When people unemployed I can see why they would be down. No money for lottery tickets!

  • momasgirlsnc Dec 16, 2010

    hpr641...How do know the financial backgroud of all of the players? And no, that is not a fact, that is your guess. Should a low-income person not have the same choice to purchase what they want? Money management short falls don't know a particular demographic. Just because you have more money does not mean you can mannage it better. Rich people throw it away too!

  • southernborn24 Dec 16, 2010

    more winners would create more sales...remember when the lottery first started, I had pretty good winnings, not hugh, but at least winners - $500 was the most. Now it is difficult to win a dollar.

  • Killian Dec 16, 2010

    Good. People are figuring out that the lottery is a huge tax on people who are really bad at math/statistics/probability.

  • RB-1 Dec 16, 2010

    Also, some stopped playing when Bev robbed the NC "Educational" Lottery for other things.

  • RB-1 Dec 16, 2010

    With unemployment as high as it is, what do they expect?

  • godnessgracious Dec 16, 2010

    I worked at a gas station in NY and the scratch off tickets had about a 1 in 6 chance of break even.

    If what apexman said below about lottery officials giving more winners to rich neighborhoods I hope they get busted. Its bad enough with the odds they do advertise.

  • hpr641 Dec 16, 2010

    "If you don't like it, don't play. Personal choice."

    Well, I don't like AND I've made a personal choice to never play. However, it is a fact the majority of the money brought in from the lottery doesn't come from rich, or even middle-class people. A better way must exist to pay for the new school down the street than off the hopes and dreams of our state's poor. Also, considering 1/3 of all $1M+ lottery winners are bankrupt within 5 years, I fail to see how there's ANY winners ... other than the lottery commissioners themselves.