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North Carolina lottery collects record $729M for education

Powerball, Mega Millions and Carolina Cash jackpot estimates are displayed at a North Carolina convenience store.

(The Center Square) – North Carolina schools received a record-breaking $729.8 million from the North Carolina Education Lottery for fiscal year 2020.

About $3 billion in sales generated the record total for schools. The money for schools represented a 3 percent increase – or about $21 million – from fiscal 2019, the lottery said.

“It’s more important than ever that our education programs get as much help as they can to achieve their mission,” Mark Michalko, executive director of the Education Lottery, said in a statement. “Our state was depending on the lottery for these education dollars. The money raised will do a lot of good. Thanks to all the North Carolinians who enjoy lottery games.”

Lawmakers established the North Carolina State Lottery Act in 2005 to create the revenue raising program. About 30 percent of lottery revenue goes to education.

Each year, legislators decide how the funds will be used. The proceeds were used to build and repair schools, provide scholarships, cover the cost for school staff and transportation, and for preschool for 4-year-olds over the past two years.

Lottery games range from scratch-off tickets to state and national draw games and are sold at 7,000 retail locations throughout the state and online.

Lottery spokesman Robert Denton said lottery sales were trending up before the COVID-19 outbreak started in March but plummeted because of stay-at-home orders meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. Lottery sales recovered as restrictions were loosened in the state.

“In fiscal year 2020, lottery ticket sales increased 5.5 percent,” Denton said. “The lottery’s performance continues its record of increasing sales every year of its operations.”

Lottery sales in fiscal year 2019 were $2.86 billion. Retailers earned $209 million in commissions, about $10 million more than the previous year in 2020.

The Department of Public Instruction could not be immediately reached for comment.

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