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How North Carolina scratch-off lottery tickets are distributed

Aug 8, 2018, 8:29 am

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North Carolina LotteryNorth Carolina Lottery: How North Carolina scratch-off lottery tickets are distributedRating:

What would you do if you won the lottery?

And what if you could figure out a system that would help you win it?

Pat Jackson thought perhaps someone had done that when she read about a couple that won a $10,000 scratch-off prize and then a $1 million scratch-off prize on the same day in different counties. Jackson, who lives in Charlotte, became curious about the distribution of the thousands of scratch-off tickets that are sold at nearly 7,000 locations across the state.

So she posed a question to CuriousNC, a joint venture between The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald-Sun that invites readers to submit questions about North Carolina for their reporters to answer.

Her question: Are scratch-off tickets distributed to the same counties in the same sequence every month?

Scratch-off tickets — a type of instant game — don't begin their journey in North Carolina. A majority of the state's tickets are printed in Alpharetta, Ga., by Scientific Games, which has an eight-year contract with the North Carolina Lottery Commission to print the tickets. But some tickets are also printed by IGT in Lakeland, Fla., and by Pollard Banknote in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Those three companies are the primary scratch-off ticket printers in the world, said Van Denton, North Carolina Education Lottery communications director.

Once they are printed, tickets are shipped to a secret warehouse centrally located in North Carolina. From there, two companies deliver the packs of tickets to stores where employees scan the tickets to activate them. If a box or packet of tickets gets lost or goes missing before it gets to the store, no prizes can be claimed because the tickets weren't activated.

Once activated tickets are available for purchase. Stores make a 7 percent commission for any ticket sold, meaning they get 7 cents for every $1 ticket sold.

The number of tickets printed can range from short-term $1 games meant to stay on the shelves four or five months to $30 games expected to be sold for more than two years. The number of winning tickets per game varies depending on the type of game, but tickets with prizes are printed and randomly placed in the packets.

When a store is running low on a particular game and wants more, they notify the state and order more packs of tickets. Those packs of tickets are then shipped from the warehouse in sequential order on a first-come, first-served basis.

New scratch-off tickets are released on the first Tuesday of the month with five new games out this month by Aug. 7. Those tickets are also delivered on a first-come, first-served basis in sequential order. That means the first store to put in a request for the game will receive the pack that has the first ticket printed. (Stores don't have to carry all of the new games, and some stores may get the newest games a day or two early; it just depends on how long it takes for them to be delivered.)

So, no, tickets aren't shipped to the same county or store in the same order each week or month.

"What's important for our lottery and any lottery is that the public and customers feel the process is distributing the tickets fairly and securely so they have a chance to win a prize when they buy a ticket like anybody else who wins a prize," Denton said.

North Carolina follows the best practices in the lottery industry, he said, to "ensure that fairness and ensure the integrity of those games."

There are anywhere from 50 to 60 games available for people to play, but most stores average only about 34 games per location. Scratch-off tickets made up nearly 70 percent of all lottery ticket sales within the last 12 months.

The CJ Food Store, off Gum Branch Road in Jacksonville, has sold the most tickets in the state in the past 12 months and plasters the names and prize amounts of winners all over the store.

There are some who believe the store is lucky and travel from nearby small towns, but there are also several people from the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and their families who play, said store owner Mahendra Surti.

The customer service is the biggest draw, he said, adding they also pay out prizes fast.

It's a similar story at Eagles Express, the Knightdale store that has sold the third most scratch-off tickets in North Carolina in the last 12 months. Annie Lomison, manager of the store, said the store purchases anywhere between 100 to 130 packs of tickets each week as it tries to keep a good selection and rotation of games.

Pat Jackson, who submitted the question, said she's glad to know the packs of tickets are sent randomly to retailers, but she's still skeptical of people who are able to win multiple prizes.

And she's right to raise an eyebrow. A 2016 investigation found that more than 300 people claimed 12 or more winning scratch-off tickets worth at least $600 each. (See Some NC lottery players win so often, their good fortune defies logic, Lottery Post, Oct. 1, 2016.)

Despite statisticians who said the odds of some of those winners being improbable, lottery officials said at the time that there "are lucky people in this world."

Top counties for scratch-off prizes

  • Wake: $109,697,203
  • Mecklenburg: $101,052,663
  • Guilford: $75,903,165
  • Cumberland: $53,246,928
  • Durham: $44,904,865
  • Forsyth: $43,509,687
  • New Hanover: $30,559,644
  • Brunswick: $29,315,288
  • Alamance: $28,611,398

CuriousNC, Lottery Post Staff

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19 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by atoz.
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Raven62's avatar - binary
25
New Jersey
United States
Member #17842
June 28, 2005
132123 Posts
Offline

Very Interesting: Since their are 100 Counties in North Carolina!

A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

    itpmguru's avatar - 42a4d4d8f2a4312fb8e253dd8f6ef251
    No Man's Land
    United States
    Member #164133
    February 19, 2015
    6609 Posts
    Offline

    And notice how Wake County makes the top of the list?  Coincidence that the lottery HQ is located there?


    I believe SC certainly has integrity when it comes to their scratchers.  They post "tickets may be sold, even after all top prizes have been won".  In some cases, the top prizes from a $10+ ticket game may be gone in a few months. 

    Meanwhile in NC, they keep a $20/$30 ticket game going for 2+yrs by staging how they release the prizes. A buddy and myself did a "research" project and most packs of tix pay out 40% or less, then a particular pack may pay out 150%.  We did this for a year and the pattern was always the same. For them to say "Prizes are randomly places in  packs" is BS, they are stacked in the houses favor to ensure they make the most money possible off of a game.


    As for Denton's comment about "Integrity"  There is NONE (in NC) when it comes to the P3/P4/Cash 5 as they are as rigged as the day is long and have been for some time now!  Anyone that studies numerology can see that NC does not follow the rules of numerology most of the time.  In addition, "Pre-draws" are a scam, this is just to ensure the pay out is what they want it to be.  Seems funny how trips seem to (more often than not) fall in the "pre-draws" as they have the past 2 months.

    I will get off my soap box now.


    Read up on the scam that is NCEL:   Not Live Drawings!


                                         


      Avatar

      United States
      Member #167579
      July 21, 2015
      78 Posts
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      They left out so many facts in this report it's not even funny.  The tickets for a large print game might not even all be printed at once.

      I.E.  They may print half the game and send it to the warehouses and they even left out bigger points such as ticket pooling.  The tickets after they are printed are sorted into pools to ensure "random" distribution, however this is actually to ensure the lottery does not lose money.  Typically the last pool of a game the last top prize is moved to the back of the pool to maximize lottery profits.  If it wasn't this way it would be entirely possible for a game to print all top prizes in the first section of the game and the lottery to take a massive loss.  Articles should really inform people not put in a few tidbits of information and a catchy headline.

       

      Ever wonder why sometimes two top prizes are hit at the same time?  The lottery will start selling through a pool "pre-sorted section of tickets with typically a jackpot prize toward the back of the pool" and then start on another one.  Once they have presold enough tickets of another pool they will then release the tickets in the back part of the first pool.  Most of the times the odds are in the lotteries favor for percentage of jackpots remaining vs. total tickets remaining.  If it was "truly" random would this be remotely possible?  No, it wouldn't be possible and over infiinity it should average out to be 50/50.

       

      They also failed to mention that tickets were at one time distributed sequentially from the bottom of the state to the top depending on their shipping order.  With ticket pooling they got around the point of the sequential distribution by mixing them upfront.  The way I know this is due to the fact I used this to my advantage to successfully predict what county a like printed payout game had a top prize distributed off the front of the print in my home state.  The only unfortunate part was I bought the books of tickets at the stores around where the top prize was sent.

       

      There are tons of other nuances, but I was excited to read this article at first.  I read the article and now I just want to inform people.

        Avatar

        United States
        Member #167579
        July 21, 2015
        78 Posts
        Offline

        And notice how Wake County makes the top of the list?  Coincidence that the lottery HQ is located there?


        I believe SC certainly has integrity when it comes to their scratchers.  They post "tickets may be sold, even after all top prizes have been won".  In some cases, the top prizes from a $10+ ticket game may be gone in a few months. 

        Meanwhile in NC, they keep a $20/$30 ticket game going for 2+yrs by staging how they release the prizes. A buddy and myself did a "research" project and most packs of tix pay out 40% or less, then a particular pack may pay out 150%.  We did this for a year and the pattern was always the same. For them to say "Prizes are randomly places in  packs" is BS, they are stacked in the houses favor to ensure they make the most money possible off of a game.


        As for Denton's comment about "Integrity"  There is NONE (in NC) when it comes to the P3/P4/Cash 5 as they are as rigged as the day is long and have been for some time now!  Anyone that studies numerology can see that NC does not follow the rules of numerology most of the time.  In addition, "Pre-draws" are a scam, this is just to ensure the pay out is what they want it to be.  Seems funny how trips seem to (more often than not) fall in the "pre-draws" as they have the past 2 months.

        I will get off my soap box now.


        Think about this thought.  Why is it advantageous for the HQ to sell jackpot tickets? 

         

         

        They don't have to pay a commission depending on the game as well as they collect the fees for sales.....  If you can squeeze an extra 1/2% it adds up over a long time.

          Avatar
          Simpsonville
          United States
          Member #163184
          January 22, 2015
          2285 Posts
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          Think about this thought.  Why is it advantageous for the HQ to sell jackpot tickets? 

           

           

          They don't have to pay a commission depending on the game as well as they collect the fees for sales.....  If you can squeeze an extra 1/2% it adds up over a long time.

          Good point there.  Never has the Mass. lottery to my knowledge posted a winner purchasing a winning ticket @ their Braintree, MA headquarters.  They'd never hear the end of it.

            partlycloudy07's avatar - 12072668 10153677680264169_8081514055861482582
            North Carolina
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            February 1, 2015
            2742 Posts
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            They missed the entire point of what NC will do to have to pay less money some of the poorest counties win Cash 5 , Scratch Offs and so on b/c they do not want to have to pay out large amounts per student when the school system starts back up. Does not matter where that person moves after the fact its the county they won it in or school district . 

             

            What they need to give a glance at are the incredible amount of tickets they leave on the shelf for months on end that the highest top prize has been won . Currently there are no games without a top prize left although a few months ago I complained about it so maybe they threw in a few again with another top prize . 

             

            The players should however stop playing big money games here as they have not paid out anything worthwhile in a long time for the amount the nc players spend.A few $500 winners sprinkled here and there are not something I would spend $2 on one ticket.

             

            At the end of the day scratch-offs are just like any other game a game of chance but does make one wonder how the money stays right there in their little circle.

            “You cannot solve a problem at the same level it was created" .......Albert Einstein

             

            Throw it against the wall and see if it sticks (every time I send a deal to the banker ROFL

              "Wherever there is number, there is beauty." -- Proclus

            visit my blog 

             

            Pick 4 pets 1917 , 1921, 5509 , 1970

              TheMeatman2005's avatar - lightening
              Brooklyn, NY
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              October 29, 2015
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              Good point there.  Never has the Mass. lottery to my knowledge posted a winner purchasing a winning ticket @ their Braintree, MA headquarters.  They'd never hear the end of it.

              I don't remember when it happened, but I remember reading on LP about a woman that went to the CT or MA lottery HQ to cash a winning ticket and while she was there, she purchased a scratch-off from the vending machine in the lobby and won another top prize.

              The Meatman 🥩🍗🍔🍖🍤🌭

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                New Member

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                Member #176985
                September 4, 2016
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                I Agree! Totally rigged.

                  Raven62's avatar - binary
                  25
                  New Jersey
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                  You pay your money and You take your chances! (ie: When You buy a Lottery Ticket, You must accept the risk that it will not be a Winner!)

                  A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

                  Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

                  Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

                    Avatar
                    Franklin-n.c
                    United States
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                    April 12, 2006
                    54 Posts
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                    western part of the state has less winners been that way for years

                      lottofan21's avatar - animal shark.jpg
                      North Carolina
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                      Member #154915
                      May 3, 2014
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                      You know it's rigged when P3 numbers go "missing" for over a year, like 145 right now out over 800 draws. And mathematically there is no way a number in cash 5 should go 70 draws without hitting like 13 currently is.

                      Great info everyone thanks.

                        KY Floyd's avatar - lysol avatar.jpg
                        NY
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                        October 16, 2005
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                        "And notice how Wake County makes the top of the list?  Coincidence that the lottery HQ is located there?"

                        Do you suppose that maybe, just maybe, there's anything about Wake county that might be relevant besides the lottery having the HQ there?

                          rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
                          Texas
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                          October 23, 2007
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                          People sometimes think a lottery is in existence to lose money for the state and make money for the players.

                          The lotteries have always been and shall always be a business for the state. If a business loses money, then it is a poorly run business that can't survive.

                          There will be winners, of course. But there will always be more losers. That doesn't mean it's rigged. Like Raven said, when you buy a ticket you take the risk that it will be a loser.

                          I checked the NC scorecard, and it's rated an A+, meaning all the games are ball drawn, no RNG.

                          CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

                          A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

                            itpmguru's avatar - 42a4d4d8f2a4312fb8e253dd8f6ef251
                            No Man's Land
                            United States
                            Member #164133
                            February 19, 2015
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                            Think about this thought.  Why is it advantageous for the HQ to sell jackpot tickets? 

                             

                             

                            They don't have to pay a commission depending on the game as well as they collect the fees for sales.....  If you can squeeze an extra 1/2% it adds up over a long time.

                            Very good point Zebekyia and you made some other very good observations in your other post as well!

                            Read up on the scam that is NCEL:   Not Live Drawings!