Local News

Powerball Lottery Sales Soar In N.C. Despite Early Glitches

Posted Updated

RALEIGH, N.C. — Despite a few glitches, sales for North Carolina's newly adopted Powerball lottery soared Tuesday alongside state lottery chief Tom Shaheen, who took off in a hot air balloon ride to promote the launch.

Since going on sale early Tuesday morning, players spent more than $1 million, exceeding estimates even though 20 percent of vendors had trouble starting sales.

"I would classify it as a very successful day," Shaheen said, moments after stepping off the balloon branded with the state's lottery logo.

He estimated another $1.5 million in tickets would be sold Wednesday.

Still, it wasn't a flawless start. Ignoring warnings from lottery workers, some vendors turned off their machines overnight, and consequently didn't receive the necessary software download, causing delays at the 5 a.m. start. Another 500 retailers found a printer problem, which was easily fixed by resetting that piece of equipment.

By the evening, all the software was downloaded and machines fixed, although Shaheen was waiting for about 300 retailers to come online.

"We're anticipating it will go smooth from here on in," Shaheen said.

Shaheen originally projected up to $4 million in North Carolina sales in the first week, although he said in the evening that the state will likely exceed those estimates.

Tickets are also sold in 28 other states. Drawings will be held every Wednesday and Saturday.

Wednesday's pot is projected to hit $38 million.

North Carolina's conversion to Powerball, if it follows in line with other states, will likely support about 20 percent of the state's net lottery proceeds, projected to total $400 million in the first fiscal year.

Powerball joins North Carolina's lottery mix two months after the state sold its first scratch-off tickets. However, participation in the instant-win games have tapered since first week sales of $28.7 million.

But Shaheen said Tuesday that "sales are right where they would be for a startup lottery," adding that Powerball will add to the game selection, which will boost sales.

To play Powerball, players purchase a $1 slip and select six numbers. Depending on any of nine different winning combinations, players can earn between $3 and the full jackpot. Buyers can also pay an additional $1 for a Power Play to multiply winnings up to five times.

The odds of taking the pot are one in 146 million. Earlier this year, eight Nebraska co-workers split a record $365 million prize.

Wednesday's drawing is scheduled for 10:59 p.m., and will be aired on WRAL-TV. Officials are also considering future coverage in Wilmington, Greensboro and Asheville.

North Carolina is the last state on the East Coast to adopt a lottery. In past years, North Carolinians spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lotteries in neighboring states.

Soon after approval, the North Carolina lottery encountered turmoil with word that commissioner Kevin Geddings worked for Scientific Games International, a leading supplier of scratch-off lottery tickets that was seeking the state's $19.2 million a year lottery contract.

Geddings stepped down, but was recently indicted on federal mail and wire fraud charges for work tied to the lottery commission. He is also charged with state lobbying violations, along with a former aide to House Speaker Jim Black and a former vice president for Scientific Games.