Closings and delays

Lawmakers discuss options for expanding lottery games

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RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina Education Lottery officials delivered a presentation to state lawmakers in Raleigh Thursday to discuss possible options for new lottery games in the state.

"We were asked by the committee chairs to present on what games other states were doing that we weren't doing, but could do," said N.C. Education Lottery Executive Director Alice Garland.

Garland discussed two styles of games, primarily - Keno and iLottery. Keno is described as a game often played in social establishments, with drawings held every three to five minutes. Fifteen states currently offer it.

iLottery, Garland said, is likely to be popular with a younger crowd. It is an instant, interactive draw game.

"The 34 and under really do refer to the lottery as 'my grandparents' game'," Garland said. "They do everything either on their smartphones or their tablets. If we want to reach those millennials - if we want to have players 30 years from now, then we need to be where they are."

Garland also discussed video lottery - often referred to as Sweepstakes. Right now, such games are banned in North Carolina.

"We have not taken a position on video lottery," Garland said. "We looked at what other states were doing, but that's up to the legislature to decide.

Garland reiterated that the impetus for the presentation was at the lawmakers' request, not the other way around.

However, Garland said growing the lottery in a responsible way would be good for education funding.

"Our statue mandates that we maximize the net return for education," she said. "So that is everything we're about. If we sell more tickets, we'll make more money for education. And that's what we want to do."

N.C. Education Lottery officials estimate this will be the first year that revenue surpasses $2 billion, with $529 million of that going to education.

State Senator Jerry Tillman, who represents parts of Moore and Randolph Counties, said he does not yet have an opinion on whether or not lawmakers should increase the number of games in the N.C. Lottery.

"We're trying to get a good background in case we want to do some legislation one way or the other," he said. "I'm trying right now just to gather information."

The N.C. Education Lottery presentation also included discussion of advertising. Currently, the N.C. Education Lottery is permitted to use only up to one percent of its revenue toward advertising. Garland said more dollars spent on advertising would increase sales and thus overall revenue.

Garland said any changes that lawmakers decide on for lottery games would likely not be implemented until Fiscal Year 2018.