GREENSBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Education Lottery said it closed six claim centers in order to prioritize safety due to the spread of coronavirus. While the pandemic hasn't prevented the continued sale of lottery tickets, one Triad convenience store worker wants that to change during the health crisis.
"From six in the morning to 11 p.m. the store is packed with lottery... lottery, lottery, lottery," said Randy Fuller of Greensboro.
Fuller said folks are defying the stay-at-home orders and breaking social distancing rules just to get lottery tickets. He said they are not only putting themselves at risk but also others like he and fellow convenience store clerks.
"When I see people come into my store and stand for 30 to 40 minutes around 20 and 30 other people just for a lottery ticket, that is not helpful, that is not sending the right message," said Fuller.
The NC Education Lottery said advertising campaigns for April were stopped to help cut back on, and not influence trips to stores for lottery tickets. They have also encouraged winners to mail-in prize claims or redeem signed winning tickets when centers re-open.
But Fuller said none of those efforts have helped, especially as people have more free time on their hands.
"It's very frustrating because I look at these people and I say to myself, 'all the time, look you guys, you know we have something going on, the coronavirus is out here and you guys don't seem to care about any of it, the only thing that's important is the lottery,'" said Fuller.
But the lottery is important to the state of North Carolina in order to fund education, according to a statement sent in by an NC Lottery spokesperson.
"The money raised this year is needed for education programs depending on those funds this year. At this time, the lottery projects that the decline in sales over the next three months will mean $27 million less than expected, raised for education this year. If sales fall further, then the amount of money raised for education this year will decline further too," said Van Denton, Director of Communications for the NC Education Lottery
The NC Lottery urged store owners to contact them if they need assistance during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Fuller wants a temporary change in hours when lottery tickets can be sold while the health crisis is ongoing.
"Even if they don't stop the lottery at least give us a time where you can play the lottery say from six in the morning to six in the afternoon at least until this Coronavirus is under control because as it is now it's not," he added.
The NC Education Lottery said they have advised lottery players to wear masks, only buy lottery tickets when they go to stores for essential items and practice social distancing. They also said retail partners have the option to suspend lottery sales if they wish to do so.
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