Local News

Even With Big Prizes, NC Lottery Sales Are Short of First-Year Target

Posted January 24, 2007 8:02 p.m. EST
Updated January 24, 2007 11:58 p.m. EST

— Someone could have have bought a ticket in North Carolina with the winning numbers drawn Wednesday night for the estimated $254 million Powerball jackpot, but the state says that even a draw like that has not been enough for its Education Lottery to be as big a winner as officials had hoped.

Lottery officials say a big reason is tough advertising rules.

The winning numbers picked Wednesday night were 9 19 29 42 53 and 17 with the Power Play Number 3.

The Powerball jackpot drove up sales Wednesday, with North Carolina selling $4,000 worth of tickets every minute. Total sales for the lottery's first year are lower than expected, however.

When North Carolina started a lottery, the state’s goal was $1.2 billion in ticket sales for the first full year.

“We are not on track right now to hit that sales level,” lottery Director Tom Shaheen said Wednesday.

State lawmakers limited how much the lottery can spend on advertising, and what its ads say.

“Would more advertising help us? Sure. Would less restrictions help us? Sure,” Shaheen said. Nonetheless, he pronounces the program a success.

Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland County, a lottery supporter agrees that education is winning.

“Cumberland County will get $7 million. I would like for it to be more, but I sure am glad we're getting $7 million,” Rand said.

Days like Wednesday help explain why lawmakers were concerned about having the lottery become too powerful a lure on people’s pocketbooks.

The jackpot brought Melissa Webman and Jennifer Butler into a lottery vendor. Scratch tickets kept them there.

“I think it's addicting, and sometimes you have to be careful. We've been here for 30 minutes,” Webman said.

Rand said lawmakers will meet with lottery officials in the near future to talk about possible changes, but he added that none is planned right now.