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How your lottery ticket helps students and the economy | NC Education Lottery going strong for 15 years

The Education Lottery now raises more than $725 million a year to support education programs in North Carolina.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — For the last 15 years, the North Carolina Education lottery has raised $8 billion for education programs. The NC Education Lottery started on March 30, 2006. 

The lottery raises $2 million each day on average for education. 

Since the lottery began: 

  • About 95 cents of every dollar spent on a lottery ticket cycles back into the state’s economy as either a prize, earnings for education, or a sales commission to a retailer.
  • The most popular games are instant games with a total of 762 different scratch-off tickets so far.
  • The lottery holds the highest level of responsible gaming certification recognized internationally and was the 4th U.S. lottery and the youngest at that time to meet the requirements for the certification.
  • Total prizes won add up to an estimated $18 billion, including seven Powerball or Mega Million jackpot wins ranging from $12 million to $344.6 million.
  • More than 7,100 retail locations across North Carolina, including some of the state’s most well-known retail brands, sell lottery tickets. That’s up from up 5,000 the day the lottery started.
  • With $3 billion in annual revenues, the lottery has grown into one of the state's most successful sales and marketing organizations.

Van Denton, Communications Director, joined 2 Wants to Know to discuss how the money is beneficial and what some of the biggest prizes are players can win. 

Where does the money raised by the lottery go and who decides how it is used? 

The Education Lottery now raises more than $725 million a year to support education programs in North Carolina. Each year, in the state budget, state legislators decide the best ways that the money raised by the lottery can support education.

This year, the money raised by the lottery will:

  • Support the costs of school workers in all school systems and the costs of school transportation in all school systems, including those in the Triad.
  • Help to build and repair schools in all 100 counties. Last year, Guilford County received $5.2 million in school construction funds from the lottery.
  • Help to make college more affordable to students attending state universities and community colleges such as the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and N.C. A&T and community colleges such as Guilford Technical Community College. The scholarships and grants are awarded based on financial need. Last year, 1,500 Guilford County college students received N.C. Education Lottery Scholarships.
  • Support the NC Pre-K program for at-risk four-year-olds, giving them a free year in an academic preschool to prepare for kindergarten. Last year, 977 four-year-olds in Guilford County benefited from this program.

RELATED: Man runs errand with wife, wins the lottery!

What are the most popular lottery games in North Carolina and what are the biggest prizes you can win? 

North Carolinians love their scratch-offs. Almost 70 percent of tickets sales last year came from scratch-offs. The biggest scratch-off prize you can win is $10 million.

The next most popular games are the Carolina Pick 3 and the Carolina Pick 4. Those game have drawings twice a day. The top prize in Pick 3 is $500 and the top prize in Pick 4 is $5,000.

Jackpots in Powerball and Mega Millions offer the biggest prizes. Jackpots in both games start at $20 million. So far, North Carolinians have won seven Powerball or Mega Million jackpot wins ranging from $12 million to $344.6 million.

Can you play the lottery online? 

You can play a few games online now. It’s called Online Play and you are allowed to buy tickets for four draw games, Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life, and Carolina Cash 5 You just set up an account on nclottery.com and fund your wallet with a debit card or electronic transfer from your bank account. No credit cards can be used to buy lottery tickets. Prizes up to $99,999 can be deposited right back into your online account.

RELATED: Guilford County woman ‘starts shouting’ after $5 ticket wins her $250,000 prize

What steps does the lottery take to encourage people to play the lottery responsibly? 

The lottery holds the highest certification in the world for responsible gaming and earned that certificate by following best practices for responsible gaming in all we do, from sales to advertising to player education.

We recently started a new player education program called Play Smart. Play Smart is designed to give those who choose to buy lottery tickets the resources and tools they need to make smart decisions before they play.

Think of Play Smart as a lottery coach, giving tips on how to play the lottery responsibly. The more players know about how our games work, the more fun they will have playing, and the more fun they have with lottery games, the more responsibly they will play.

We share with our players that whenever playing the lottery doesn’t feel like fun then that is a sign to take a break.

The Education Lottery provides $1 million a year for the N.C. Problem Gambling Program. The money provides the funds to operate a 24/7 helpline for anyone with a gambling problem, free treatment and care, and education and prevention programs.