Local News

Lottery Looks to Boost Sagging Ticket Sales

Posted May 11, 2007 6:23 p.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2007 7:24 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Education Lottery is expected to cross the $1 billion mark in ticket sales Saturday, but remains about $200 million short of initial projections.

As lottery officials eye new games and different ideas to boost sales, such as $1 million raffle games that started Friday, director Tom Shaheen said he wants to focus on the accomplishments of the state-run games over the last year.

"I would rather look at it as we've crossed $1 billion in sales in barely over a year. That is a remarkable feat to reach," Shaheen said, noting the lottery has raised about $305 million for school districts across North Carolina so far.

But Shaheen said it will be difficult to revive sagging ticket sales because state lawmakers have been cool to the idea of pumping up  the portion of revenue used on advertising and prizes.

Virginia, for example, has a higher payout average per ticket than North Carolina, he said.

"In order to raise more money for education, we need to attract more players," he said. "You could always use more marketing opportunities to sell tickets. Certainly, we are limited here."

Despite restrictions, lottery officials said they would do what they can to spur interest.

About 60,000 tickets for the new raffle were sold Friday at $20 each, and although it isn't a sure bet, Shaheen said the game gives players better odds than other games. The 1-in-125,000 chance of winning the $1 million prize are even better than a lightning strike, he said.

"This may upset some people, but that's better than the odds of getting struck by lightning. It's four-and-a-half times better than getting struck by lightning," he said.