Buying an N.C. Education Lottery ticket once a week usually satisfies Millicent Edwards' urge to take a chance, but it takes more for her to feel like she's in the game.
So she's excited about today's debut of additions to the lottery's website that will allow registered users to fill out surveys and polls, get e-mail alerts on drawings for particular games, read a blog and view videos and photographs.
The new Lucke-Zone also will make it easier for players to enter second-chance drawings in instant-win games, include game demonstrations to show players how games work, and let them know if their favorite "lucky numbers" come up in a drawing.
"I like to visit the official site because I love reading the winners' stories and viewing pictures of big winners," said Edwards, who lives in Rocky Mount and follows the lottery on Facebook, where she can read other people's comments.
"The extra interaction just makes you feel a little luckier although you know the games are a long shot."
Lottery spokesman Van Denton said the Lucke-Zone, which will be accessible from the lottery's website, nc-educationlottery.org, is an effort to provide better service to its customers.
"We think it will appeal to anyone who likes to get information online, and to customize it for their interests," Denton said. "Most people are online now. So to be successful in a sales organization you need to have a strong online operation."
Lotteries in neighboring states already have similar, interactive online elements, Denton said. "We actually feel like we're catching up."
About 30,000 who have registered on the website have been able to sign up for e-mail messages reporting the winning numbers on lottery games. But most people don't play every game, and only need the winning numbers on the ones they play. The new Lucke-Zone will allow them to get just those.
It will streamline the process to entering second-chance drawings for scratch-off instant-win games as well. Now, players have to enter all their information each time they go on the website to enter a second-chance drawing on a ticket that didn't win. Once the new system is fully functional, they'll only have to enter the ticket number.
Denton said the lottery will not share personal information from players, but may occasionally send them updates about new games before they are announced to the general public.
Interactive websites that automatically inform customers of new products is a strong trend, said Hudson Haines, an account manager with Fragment, a Raleigh web design and application development company.
"It's a way to keep up with your clients and remind them to keep purchasing from you," Haines said.
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