The latest marketing plan from the North Carolina Education Lottery is drawing some criticism, but not from the direction some might expect.
The Lottery announced Thu., Sept. 12, it would start selling subscriptions for tickets to its three jackpot games – Powerball, Mega Millions and Carolina Cash 5. The sales will be offered through its website.
While some might expect opposition to the plan from gambling addiction groups, the loudest complaint so far has come from another angle.
The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association sent a letter to the Lottery Oversight Committee, expressing worry that online ticket sales will reduce income for its member stores. Association president Andy Ellen said the lost imcome could lead to the loss of jobs and a reduction in sales tax revenue.
Currently about 6,900 retail stores sell lottery tickets in North Carolina. Those stores receive a 7 percent sales commission on lottery tickets, and lottery executive director Alice Garland said data do not reflect a decrease in retail sales in 11 states where subscription services are already offered.
State law requires at least 35% of annual lottery revenues be allocated generally to education, but the lottery reports less than 29% of its 2012 income went to that purpose.
The LotteryInsider website reports that the state’s lottery took in $1.59 billion last year. Of that, about $1.38 million – or less than one-tenth of one percent – came to Montgomery County Schools.
A source said the lottery plans to begin the subscription service sometime in November.