North Carolina lottery ticket sales fell short of projections in the past few months, but officials say conditions are improving.
One of the lottery's holiday-themed games, $1 Holiday Cash, is about to sell out of its 6 million tickets. The holiday raffle, in which players buy a limited number of tickets for cash drawings, is outpacing sales of similar raffles in Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina. In recent weeks, sales of new games appear to be up.
N.C. lottery director Tom Shaheen said some recent trends suggest players are starting to take interest.
"They are starting to recognize they (the games) are paying out more," he said.
Shaheen told the state Lottery Commission on Wednesday that ticket sales for July, August and September, the lottery's fiscal first quarter, were below projections. The lottery sold more than $221.7 million worth of tickets during that period. Its goal was $239.4 million.
Lottery tickets went on sale in North Carolina in March 2006. Sales have been sluggish as many players have been frustrated that the tickets didn't pay out as much as games in neighboring states. In September, the governor and legislature let lottery officials to put more money toward prizes.
Gov. Mike Easley said this week that he is confident that sales will grow.
"You crank up a billion dollar business in three months and you're not going to be right on target with your predictions," he said.