The North Carolina Lottery Commission is closer to putting together a network of ticket retailers after approving a proposed contract with about 30 guidelines for stores.
A statewide database already has provided a list of 10,000 potential retailers, lottery executive director Tom Shaheen said. State law does not cap the number of places that will qualify to sell lottery tickets and it is unclear how many retailers will qualify to sell them.
Shaheen wants instant-win tickets on sale by April 5, followed by Powerball in July and other number games in the fall.
Some storeowners already are figuring out their marketing plans.
"My plan is to put little toppers out on the pumps and put a big sign on the road: 'Lottery tickets being sold,'" said Ben Dhillon, the owner of Pit Stop Food & Beverage in Winston-Salem.
Dhillon said that between 500 and 600 people come to his store each day, and he expects that most of them would buy tickets.
"I wish we could start it tomorrow," he said.
The contract approved last week requires retailers to "make every effort" to display outside signs, though local ordinances may block that from happening. Retailers also will be barred from living in the same household as lottery employees and giving lottery employees large gifts.
They will have to undergo background checks, offer all available scratch tickets and pay a $15 weekly fee for each location to help defray the costs of equipment. Retailers will keep 7 percent of their lottery sales and any bonuses that lottery officials award.
The profit margin is smaller than on many items in a convenience store but retailers hope they will come out ahead if the lottery brings more people into the store.
"I think they would buy stuff in the store when they come to buy lottery tickets, and I think that would help the store," said Wilma Hall, the owner of Mimi's Mini Mart near High Rock Lake. "This would really be good for the fishermen and the hunters."
The contract allows tickets to be bought with cash, checks, debit cards and gift cards, but not with credit cards. They also cannot be bought with food stamps. Retailers will not be allowed to be "engaged exclusively" in lottery sales.
The lottery is expected to generate $425 million in proceeds a year. Half is to go to hire more elementary-school teachers and expand a pre-kindergarten program, 40 percent would go to help counties build schools and 10 percent would go to college scholarships.