It’s just rather curious. Why is it that some people, including some of the store owners who sell lottery tickets, seem to enjoy extraordinary luck when it comes to winning various games in the North Carolina Education Lottery? The Charlotte Observer’s series on the issue turned up some interesting stories: There was the High Point woman who hit winners nine times in a four-month span, against odds of 1 in 5,000, 1 in 40,000, 1 in 70,000 and 1 in 120,000.
Lottery retailers also claim an extraordinary number of prizes. In a convenience store north of Raleigh, the retailer selling lottery tickets claimed 42 or 99 winning tickets sold at his store from 2009 until last year. The Observer found that at least a couple of dozen retailers or employees claimed 10 or more winning tickets since 2010.
The lottery knows that some winners sell their tickets to others for a discount, which enables them to keep some of their winnings without revealing them to avoid, for example, back taxes or child support payments. It’s in effect a secondary market for the lottery.
Those pushing the lottery before it was enacted in North Carolina in 2005 created an office to oversee the games. Alice Garland, executive director of the lottery, stands by its oversight and promises it is the lottery office’s objective to keep everything on the up and up. Garland is a veteran state official and has a good reputation. “Integrity goes to the very heart of what we do,” she said.
Garland and her office may be doing all they can do, but some of the winning patterns are troubling, and it’s clear the lottery could use a tune-up on rules. The governor should call in lottery experts, or former experts from other states, to review North Carolina’s games. It couldn’t hurt.