Now that North Carolina has a lottery, residents with hopes of striking it rich don't have to head north to Virginia to buy tickets, and retail stores just across the line are feeling the effects.
Virginia lottery director Sheila Hill-Christian said the overall decline of 8 to 10 percent was expected. But she said her state's lottery will make changes in games and install state-of-the-art technology that should enable it to make up the loss within two years.
"We'll overcome this," she said in a telephone interview.
Statewide, ticket sales were down 9 percent in the 12 weeks after North Carolina started selling lottery tickets, compared with a similar period a year ago.
The greatest decline during the period was in Carroll County, where Hill-Christian said that retail outlets' sales fell 33 percent to $2.7 million. Henry County stores had a 24 percent decline in sales, to $3.6 million. Danville sales were down 17 percent, and those in Brunswick County 16 percent. But the decline was only 7 percent in Chesapeake.
Phil McGraw, the owner of the VA 500 Fruit Market in Carroll County, about a mile from the North Carolina line, said he used to have almost 1,000 people a week in his store playing the lottery. Since the end of March, ticket sales have declined by about 50 percent, and traffic has slowed enough that he has had to lay off two people.
"Some of the lottery players aren't coming up this way at all," he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Others have returned, saying that the scratch-ticket payouts are better in Virginia than in North Carolina, McGraw said.
Hill-Christian said that studies show that players go back and forth across the border to follow the largest jackpot, so Virginia stores now are losing some business from Virginia residents. "Lotteries work very well together for the most part," she said.
One retailer said those people tell him the scratch-ticket payouts are better in Virginia than in North Carolina.