January 29, 2020 3 min read


North Carolina Lottery Digital Instants Plans Raise Serious Concerns

North Carolina state lottery Commission plans to expand operations by entering the online sales field through the introduction of “digital instants” seem to face serious opposition, especially with the state’s attorney general who raised his voice against the idea, claiming it is inconsistent with previous law that prohibits video sweepstake games in the state.

The Commission Has the Right but Lacks Authority

As the Commission members were looking to continue on their efforts that started in December 2019, when they voted for the idea for online instant sales but left themselves a way out in case they face strong opposition from in-person lottery sales outlets or politicians, the opposition from the state attorney general, Democrat Josh Stein, gave them a reason to pause and reconsider.

Despite the law in North Carolina giving the right to the lottery to approve by itself any game that is being offered by another state lottery, with the digital instants being in fact the electronic equivalent of scratch-off tickets with cash prizes that are currently available in five other states, Stein argues that “the Commission lacks authority to offer lottery games that qualify as video games”, implying the similarity with the video sweepstake games that have been banned in the state.

Projected Money Flows

Lottery officials, on the other hand, lured by the preliminary report that promises digital instants sales to reach $780 million in the fifth year of operations, a 27% on top of their 2019 $2.9 billion in sales that gave $708 million profit directed for education, debate that there are significant differences between the lottery proposed digital instants and the banned sweepstake video games, as the former would be regulated, would require customer age verification and would have controls in place to prevent excessive gaming activity in terms of money transfer limits .

Strong Opposition Camp

And state attorney general Josh Stein is not alone in the opposition camp, as the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association also expressed their disagreement with the plans of the lottery to expand to the online sales realm, fearing this expansion would hurt them by cannibalizing their brick-and-mortar outlets sales, and though the lottery has provided letters from two other states where both in-person and digital-type sales are available, Kentucky and New Hampshire, the possible effect is still unclear.

Other state organizations such as the North Carolina Justice Center and John Locke Foundation also stand against the idea to allow people to play digital lottery games from the comfort of their homes, but ultimately, the decision would be a political one, with the Commission members being appointed by the State Governor and the Republican leaders, and more than 30 Democrats already signing under a letter to work to bar digital instants in case they are implemented.


Simon is a freelance writer who specializes in gambling news and has been an author in the poker/casino scene for 10+ years. He brings valuable knowledge to the team and a different perspective, especially as a casual casino player.

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