Let the Games Begin
August 31, 2005: The North Carolina State Lottery Act was signed into law, establishing the N.C. Education Lottery. Just seven
months later, on March 30, with executive director Tom Shaheen at the helm, the first lottery scratch-off tickets go on sale.
Exactly two months later, North Carolinians got their first chance to play Powerball. And in October the lottery added daily
evening drawings for Carolina Pick 3 and Carolina Cash 5. Gradual product roll-outs allowed people unfamiliar with the lottery
to learn how to play and try new games.
Just 399 days after entering the market, total sales topped $1 billion. In May 2008 the first NCEL 200 truck race got underway
at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The high-visibility event would become the lottery’s signature marketing sponsorship. Supporting
professional and collegiate sports programs, minor league baseball and local fairs and festivals was a key to the lottery
becoming part of the state’s cultural fabric.
By the time the lottery’s third birthday rolled around, total sales reached $3 billion and total earnings for education exceeded
$1 billion. It was the right time to introduce Carolina Pick 4, rounding out the lottery’s complement of daily draw games.
Shaheen led negotiations to make it possible for states to sell tickets for both Powerball and Mega Millions. As a result, North
Carolina players got the chance starting in January 2010 to take aim at multi-million dollar jackpots four times a week, elevating
the regular buzz surrounding lottery jackpots. Since then, six North Carolinians have won Powerball or Mega Millions jackpots,
ranging from $12 million to $188 million.
With a long list of accomplishments, Shaheen left his post in fall 2010. He was succeeded by Alice Garland, a member of his senior
executive team from day one.
A New Vision for Success
Garland set a course to sustain steady year-over-year growth in an evolving marketplace. She also challenged the entire organization
to expand the scope of its responsible gaming program, establishing North Carolina as an industry leader in the field.
In October 2012 the Lucke-Rewards program went live, allowing players to enter tickets online for points they could earn to enter
exclusive drawings for cash and other prizes. The following December, for the first time players could purchase tickets for jackpot
games through web-based subscription services. The launch of a mobile app and the Play at the Pump program would follow. By the close
of 2016, there were more than 700,000 registered members and more than 100,000 mobile app users.
A top priority for 2013 was to develop a plan to reach $1 billion in instant ticket sales. After reaching that goal, the lottery
realized another major milestone the following year: Annual earnings for education surpassed half a billion dollars.
Scratch-off enthusiasts had been able to try their luck on $10 tickets since fall 2006 and $20 tickets since fall 2009. It wasn’t
until fall 2015 that the first $30 ticket hit stores, giving players the chance to win $10 million prizes.
On Super Bowl Sunday in February 2016 the lottery joined the multistate game Lucky for Life. While some players enjoy the chance
to win big top prizes or play for jackpots that grow larger, the unique top prize of $1,000 a Day for Life in the game offers
the appeal of a prize that lasts a lifetime.
In 2016, the lottery celebrated its 10th anniversary and closed out its 10th full year with total earnings for education in
excess of $4.6 billion and $15.8 billion in sales since inception. It is the only U.S. lottery to achieve both growth in sales
and growth in earnings every year during its first 10 years.
More than a decade since the first ticket was sold, the Education Lottery successfully rolled out a brand revitalization campaign
in 2016, including a modern update to its logo. But the rebranding was about more than a makeover. The brand evolution coincides
with 2017 upgrades to state-of-the-industry technology that delivers enhanced consumer experiences in stores and online.
A New Decade of Dreams
In March of 2018, Alice Garland, who helped start the N.C. Education Lottery and led its operations for seven years, retired.
M. Mark Michalko, a 30-year gaming industry veteran with both U.S. lottery and international gaming experience, was named as
the new executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery.
It’s a success story still in the making.
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