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Rising Gas Prices Not Helping Lottery Ticket Sales

May 4, 2006, 11:48 am

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North Carolina Lottery

People have spent more than $100 million in the past month buying lottery tickets in North Carolina. The state is pleased with the results, but officials say the take could be even bigger.

So, what's holding things back?

Some believe it's high gas prices. Actually, these days it seems like you have to win the lottery just to be able to afford gas.

Reginald Williams drives all the time for his home improvement business. He's keeping expenses down by not buying non-necessities like lottery tickets.

"I spend $30 everyday just for $10 of gas," Williams told NBC17.

Lottery Director Tom Shaheen said the state doesn't have any solid numbers, but it doesn't take a genius to see that high gas prices have consumers holding off on buying other things.

"(Gas prices) are certainly affecting sales a bit," Shaheen said. "Somebody goes in there and puts down $50 to fill up a tank of gas, are they going to buy a lottery ticket? We hope so, but maybe not. They may not buy anything else in the store either."

The average price of gas in North Carolina is around $3. You can get three lottery tickets for that. So, which is it, gas or lottery tickets?

"Three lottery tickets or a gallon of gas?" John Malloy, a Raleigh resident said. "I have six children and six grandchildren, who has the money leftover?"

Lottery officials said their sales figures of $100 million in a little more than a month is on target, despite the high gas prices.

Officials hope the upcoming Powerball game, which gets underway at the end of May, will help perk up interest in the lottery.

After prize payouts and expenses, the lottery is expected to return around 35 perent of its sales to education.

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