The North Carolina Lottery Commission approved the sale of digital instant games on Tuesday. This adds yet another gaming offering to the increasing legal gambling market in the state.
The commission, which had the authority to authorize so-called “digital instant tickets” (likened to digital scratch-off tickets) for some time, has now indicated that they will be available starting Nov. 15.
The North Carolina lottery made the addition while the Legislature mulls allowing commercial casinos to operate in the Tar Heel State and legalizing video lottery terminals.
How to play digital instant games
When playing digital instant games, consumers can become winners immediately after the purchase, just like real-world scratch-off tickets. Other states that sell these tickets offer various games with differing price points, but it remains to be seen which digital instants consumers will be able to buy in North Carolina.
The NCLC voted to restrict the amount customers can spend on digital instant tickets, setting limits at $505 per day, $2,000 per week and $4,000 per month.
According to data shared by the commission during Tuesday’s presentation on the subject, digital instant games could take in more than $400 million in revenue within five years. It was also explained that other states reported online “scratch-off style” games have not negatively impacted retail instant games at stores that offer lottery services. Neighboring Virginia sells digital instants.
North Carolina sells lottery tickets at retail locations, as well as online, and offers draw games, such as the popular Pick 3 and Pick 4, and multi-state games Mega Millions and Powerball.
One commission member, Chris Hayes, a Republican from Raleigh, opposed instant digitals, citing concerns over saturation to the gaming industry.
“We, as the commission, do not know what the landscape of gaming is going to be in North Carolina over the next year,” Hayes said. “There’s still a lot of proposals out there in the General Assembly. We could have more responsibility. We don’t know what the total handle is. We don’t know how many gamblers there are. Introducing new games now with an uneven landscape, I don’t think is the right move.”
The gaming landscape has shifted significantly this year with the passage of online sports betting in North Carolina, which the NCLC will oversee. Hayes’ comment seems also to point to legislative discussions around casino expansion, which, again, would be overseen by the NCLC. If casinos and VLTs were to be legalized this year along with online sports betting, Hayes would have a point as the state would be in for a massive influx of legal gaming options, all of which would fall under the lottery’s purview.
North Carolina online sports betting is slated to launch between Jan. 8, 2024, and June 14, 2024. The state recently plucked a regulator from Massachusetts to head up its new sports betting division.