North Carolinians can expect to play the lottery on or before April 5 — four months after Tom Shaheen, the new lottery director, officially begins his job in Raleigh.
Shaheen and Charles Sanders, the lottery chairman, on Tuesday finalized the deal that will bring Shaheen to North Carolina from New Mexico, where Shaheen has been chief of the lottery since 2000.
Shaheen will start in Raleigh on Dec. 5, from an office location still to be determined. Shaheen said he'll focus first on requesting proposals from lottery vendors, lining up retailers and beginning to hire a staff.
Shaheen has a big incentive to start the games by April 5. If he does, he'll receive a $50,000 bonus on top of a $235,000 salary. The potential bonus would be reduced by $12,500 for each week the lottery doesn't offer games, down to no bonus for starting up after May 5.
Shaheen expressed optimism about the April 5 start Tuesday but said he couldn't yet offer a specific day the games will begin.
"Obviously, we'll be trying to get it going quicker than that," he said.
Shaheen was pretty sure, though, about ruling one day out: April 1.
He said players might not believe it if the lottery were to begin on April Fool's Day.
"We'll probably avoid that day, yes we will," he said, chuckling.