Richmond County lottery vendors attribute state record lottery sales over the past year to a wider variety of offerings and a down economy that has people desperate for a big pay off.
Ticket sales for the North Carolina Education Lottery jumped about 10 percent across the state during the 2009-10 fiscal year, posting its fourth consecutive year of record sales.
The state lottery commission attributes the growth to more retailers selling the tickets and the addition of the Mega Millions game in January. Richmond County merchants see the down economy as motivation to buy more tickets.
A Monday press release from the state Lottery Commission heralded the games’ more than $419 million contribution to the State Education Lottery fund, bringing the total money raised for education since the lottery’s 2006 inception to $1.556 billion.
“We’re pleased that the lottery continues to grow as our games become more popular with both players and retailers who sell our tickets,” Lottery Executive Director Tom Shaheen said in the release. “The growth enabled us to produce additional money to support education and we plan to work hard to achieve an even greater return for education this.”
Tobacco Road Outlet District Manager Scott Clark manages 10 stores that all sell lottery tickets, and said more choices and a down economy both contribute to people playing the lottery.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Clark said, attributing increased sales to the two factors. “The commercials they show for the games on television and adding new games like the raffle they have on T.V. have also helped sell more tickets.”
Clark said the lottery has increasingly traded out scratch-off tickets, as well, which has served it well.
“That’s what people like. They want to play the new games,” Clark said. “Especially once they hear somebody has won a couple of times on one game. Then, they tend to back off of that one and move onto a new game.”
Convenience Corner of Hamlet Owner John Garner said the economy plays a large factor in more and more people becoming attracted to playing the lottery, as well as the video sweepstakes terminals.
“The popularity of the lottery has actually grown, and I think some of that is due to the economy,” Garner said. “As the economy’s gotten worse, more and more people are staking their success on the lottery rather than reaping the benefits of a healthy economy. They’re using it as a way to get income.”
He said he has many customers who play the scratch-off games “religiously,” or buy tickets for the daily and weekly drawings, and monitor when new games will be released on the Internet.
“They’ll come in and tell us that this game is going to come out on this date,” Garner said. “... They get excited about it.”
Garner said the introduction of the $20 card, with the best of winning the state lottery has ever offered, helped to boost sales recently.
“It takes a special kind of player to play the $20 card every time, but there are people who do it,” he said.
The state release points out there was a 4 percent increase in the number of retail locations that carry the lottery, during the 2009-10 fiscal year, and the lottery paid $99.3 million in sales commissions to retailers.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at email@example.com.