RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – There’s a sort of excitement and a chance to win big when gambling.
It’s what brought Josh Ayscue of Youngsville to purchase lottery tickets in Raleigh Wednesday afternoon.
“I think it’s just the thrill of it. Sometimes I might not win and another time I won $5,000,” said Ayscue.
The Youngsville resident and others shared their excitement after learning the North Carolina Education Lottery launched digital instant lottery games that can be easily accessed online—even on your phone.
“We’re basically taking the scratch-off that you’ve been seeing for years at the local store on the corner and just moving them to a digital space,” said N.C. Education Lottery Communications Manager Adam Owens.
Owens said there are now eight interactive games–called “digital instants”– that include Fortunes of Cleopatra, Robo Cash, and Queen of Diamonds. A chance to play can cost as low as $.05 with prizes as big as $150,000.
Owens said, “It allows us to reach new people in a different way, but it also adds a level of excitement.”
Over five years, the games are projected to generate more than $450 million that will also support state education expenses. At the same time, some groups and state leaders, including Attorney General Josh Stein, have expressed concerns about the games and how they’ll impact vulnerable populations. It’s why lottery commission officials said a team is focused on safe and responsible gaming.
“We have people internally here where that’s their main focus, that we are helping players to play smart,” said Owens. He added, “The one thing that these ‘digital instants’ allow us to do is actually learn a whole lot more about the playing habits of our players, and to be more responsive and more helpful for how they’re playing.”
In addition to players verifying that they’re at least 18 years old with the last four digits of their social security number, Owens pointed to the additional safeguards people can take to make sure they don’t cross the line. Players are able to set deposit limits, lock themselves out of their accounts for a period of time, and even receive notifications to remind them of how long they have been playing. Owens said eight states also offer the games; however, North Carolina Education Lottery has the highest rating for responsible gaming in the industry.
Ayscue said he could also see the risks of some people having access right on their personal devices. He said, “I think the accessibility can cause a problem, too… I don’t recommend doing it all the time with the last bit of money you have, but it’s well worth it if you know what you’re doing.”
A call and text-line is also available for anyone who has questions or concerns. They can ask about things like setting a budget, putting family and friends first, and taking a break if needed.