State lottery sees $3.8B increase over last year’s earnings

The NC Education Lottery had a banner 2021 fiscal year, raking in $3.8 billion in ticket sales. (Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands)

Since kicking off in 2006, the lottery has received more than $8.2 billion for the state’s education system. According to state lottery officials, 2021 was a banner fiscal year: $3.8 billion was garnered — a 26% increase from last year.

The state education system will see $936 million of those sales, also up from 2020 by $206 million (28%). Unaudited year-end figures show that’s $2.5 million a day being racked up for statewide education needs, according to an N.C. Education Lottery press release.

RELATED: How $20M in lottery profits is funneled each year into New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender schools

Money raised from the lottery is split across all 100 North Carolina counties, and numbers have not been revealed yet on how much will be funneled into the tri-county region. The funds go toward building/repairing schools, funding college scholarships and grants, supporting school system expenses, such as payroll and transportation costs, as well as supporting pre-K needs for at-risk 4-year-olds.

Covid-19 seemingly impacted lottery tickets sales, according to executive director Mark Michalko. Michalko credits the uptick to impacts felt from Covid-19, especially with the public’s decrease in entertainment options since so many events were canceled and venues closed.

He also credited the state lottery’s new games as appealing, such as “Fast Play,” which paid out instant prizes with a progressive jackpot. High-earning jackpots in both Powerball and Mega Millions games and an array of new scratch-off tickets likely contributed to the increased interest as well, he added.

According to lottery officials, the state paid out the most prize money yet: over $2.4 billion. More than 7,000 retailers earned commissions of $262 million from ticket sales — which is up $52.5 million from last year.

“We succeeded thanks to the loyalty of lottery players, the support of our retailers all across our state, and a tremendous effort by the lottery staff to find ways to safely complete our mission in raising money for education,” Michalko said in the release.

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