RALEIGH — The North Carolina Education Lottery surpassed records in sales and profits for the state, bringing in $522 million for education expenses in the most recent budget year, according to records released Thursday.
An unaudited report from the state lottery said ticket sales for the fiscal year ending June 30 totaled nearly $2 billion. More than $1.2 billion was given away in prizes.
While ticket sales increased just over 7 percent, profits increased by smaller amount, almost 4 percent. Both increases were roughly in line with averages from the past several years.
Alice Garland, executive director of the lottery, said operational expenses remained the about the same in recent years, but the lottery has steadily spent more money on prizes in order to draw in more customers.
The legislature’s top economist last year projected the lottery would generate nearly $521 million for education initiatives and teacher pay.
The state participated in an unsuccessful national Monopoly game that was scrapped after just a few months last fall, and Garland said officials “scrabbled” to find ways to make up the expected revenue.
“It was a little bit of a tougher year for us,” Garland said, but she said the lottery is “positioned very well” compared to other states.
The Senate budget currently under negotiations with the House includes a provision allowing the lottery to increase its advertising spending by half, from 1 percent of revenues to 1.5 percent. Garland said the lottery estimates the increase would boost profits by $31.5 million over a full year.
House budget writers tried unsuccessfully last year to raise the advertising cap for the lottery, but Garland said the lottery opposed the plan because it came with stricter rules governing the ads’ placement and content.
Prizes of more than $1 million were given out 55 times last year, and daily prizes averaged about $3.4 million.