Business

Lottery commission adds Mega Millions

Posted November 2, 2009 4:18 p.m. EST
Updated November 2, 2009 6:33 p.m. EST

— Lottery players in North Carolina should soon be able to play for up to four big jackpots a week instead of just two.

The North Carolina Education Lottery Commission voted Monday to begin selling tickets for the Mega Millions multi-state drawing that's currently in 12 states. Powerball tickets already are sold in North Carolina and 32 other jurisdictions.

The consortium behind Mega Millions and the Urbandale, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, have agreed in principle to cross-sell tickets for both games beginning next year, officials said. The groups see the deal as a way to boost lottery revenues for states.

North Carolina lottery executive director Tom Shaheen said there are still details to work out, but Mega Millions could be sold in North Carolina by Jan. 31.

“By adding another big jackpot game, our state can expect cross-selling revenues to be 18 to 25 percent higher than current Powerball sales for the first fiscal year or roughly $38 million to $52 million,” Shaheen said. “This would mean a return of approximately $11 million to $15 million more for education. If we experience longer jackpot runs than anticipated, these numbers may be higher.

Lottery opponents disagree with the decision.

“Clearly the deal is that the state of North Carolina is enticing people to give up their hard-earned money with a once in a million chance of getting rich, because they don’t want to raise revenue the honest way,” said Chris Fitzsimon, director of North Carolina Policy Watch.

Mega Millions drawings are held on Tuesdays and Fridays, while Powerball drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Mega Millions holds the record for the largest U.S. lottery jackpot — $390 million on March 6, 2007. The largest Powerball jackpot was $365 million on Feb. 18, 2006.

Holiday games introduced

The state will launch its three holiday-themed games on Tuesday.

Jingle Big Ol’ Bucks, a $5 game with more than $9.2 million in total prizes, includes eight top prizes of $100,000. It also features more than 47,000 prizes between $50 and $100.

The $2 game Holiday Gifts has eight top prizes of $25,000. It also offers prizes between $25 and $1,000.

Stocking Stuffer, a $1 game, offers prizes from $50 and $100.