Lottery ticket sales topped $3 billion for the first time ever in North Carolina in fiscal year 2020, allowing the N.C. Education Lottery to raise $729.8 million for the state.

The amount of money raised set a new record, topping last year’s amount by $20.6 million, or an almost 3 percent increase. On average, the lottery generated $2 million a day for education in fiscal year 2020, according to unaudited year-end results.

“It’s more important than ever that our education programs get as much help as they can to achieve their mission,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the Education Lottery. “Our state was depending on the lottery for these education dollars. The money will do a lot of good. Thanks to all the North Carolinians who enjoy lottery games.”

The additional dollars support education programs in all 100 counties of the state, as determined each year by legislators in the state budget. The money raised helped:
• Build and repair schools.
• Make college more affordable through scholarships and grants based on financial need.
• Support school systems with the costs of school workers and transportation.
• Support the NC Pre-K program, a free academic prekindergarten program for at-risk four-year-olds.

Like other retail businesses, the lottery had to curtail its sales and marketing operations while the state entered a Stay At Home phase in the spring due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But as the state reopened, lottery ticket sales rebounded strongly.

“The Education Lottery has increased sales every year of its operations,” said Michalko. “At one time this year, that did not look possible. We had to change the way we work, but our lottery team never faltered and kept moving forward to meet our goals and our commitment to education.”

Lottery ticket sales increased 5.5 percent, up from $2.86 billion last year. The lottery’s performance continues its record of increasing sales every year of its operations.

Retailers across the state earned $209 million in commissions from lottery ticket sales, $10 million more than the year before. With 7,015 retail locations, the commissions play an important role in the state’s retail economy.

At the end of the year, the lottery’s total contribution to the state since inception in March 2006 exceeded $7.3 billion.