In their state budget plan, senators toyed with the idea of increasing state lottery advertising and adding a version of instant tickets available on the Internet or smartphones.
These changes did not make it into the final negotiated budget signed into law Friday.
Earlier this year, senate lawmakers asked the lottery for a list of options that would juice up lottery revenues, increasing dollars towards public education.
In a memo outlining “additional revenue opportunities” were options such as video lottery terminals, lottery sales at liquor stores, increased advertising and the instant E-tickets. The Senate included the latter two, while the House made no changes in its proposed plan.
Current law caps spending for pitching the games at 1 percent of sales. The Senate wanted to increase that to 1.5 percent, spending an additional $10 million on TV, radio and other ads.
Last year, House lawmakers adopted increased advertising in their plan then later scrapped it.
Sen. Harry Brown, leading budget writer for his chamber, said in August that most states spend much more on ads than North Carolina. He added that the small increase would bring in more revenue with little change.
Currently, the lottery is able to spend about $20 million advertising its games statewide. The increase in ads would have generated about $155 million more in lottery sales, according to the lottery and Senate plans, returning $31.5 million more to education.
Brown had expressed less support for the proposed E-Instant tickets included in his chamber’s plan, saying it was something new to look at that could be negotiated out.
Both options were negotiated out in recent weeks as budget talks got serious.
Lottery spokesman Van Denton had stressed that the memo of options was produced by request of lawmakers, and that the lottery only backed more ad spending at this time.
Although he acknowledged that the North Carolina lottery, like all others, faces the challenge of staying relevant as the the world goes digital.
A few states use Internet and online gaming already, and Denton said the time would come for lawmakers and the public to think about how – and when – North Carolina would as well.
Apparently lawmakers decided the time has not yet come.