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NC Lottery Commission Approves Online Gambling

A man on a laptop looking at online gambling website

As state lawmakers consider a massive expansion of gambling in North Carolina in the form of commercial casinos and video lottery terminals, the State Lottery Commission has just approved adding online gambling to its many offerings. This action comes just two months after the North Carolina General Assembly legalized statewide sports gambling and parimutuel wagering on horse racing, adding to a gambling fever that seems to be overtaking the Tar Heel State.

At its meeting Tuesday night, August 15, the State Lottery Commission voted 5-2 to authorize “digital instants” or “e-instants,” which are digital lottery games played online that mimic video poker, video blackjack, slot machines, scratch-off tickets, and a host of other gambling games. One look at the Virginia Lottery website and you will see games like: “Lucky 7’s,” “King of Clubs,” “Street Fighter II,” “Joker’s Wild,” “Sweet Crush,” “Monopoly Progressive Jackpots,” and many others. Not only are these games designed to attract more consumers to participate in the state lottery, but many are themed after popular children’s movies, video games, and board games, like Alice in Wonderland, Candy Crush, Monopoly, and the Addams Family.

In order to participate in digital instants online, players would deposit money into their “online wallet” accounts with the NC Lottery. According to the information presented at Tuesday’s meeting, deposit limits would be set at $505/day, $2,000/week, and $4,000 per month, meaning an individual could spend as much as $48,000 a year on online gambling with the lottery.

Lottery staff estimated that digital instants will generate over $75 million in gross revenue in the first year and over $640 million in the first five years.

During the Lottery Commission’s debate on the issue, questions arose over the legality of the State Lottery offering online gambling, like video poker. In a letter to the Commission several years ago, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein raised similar issues when the Commission first began discussing digital instants. Commission staff strongly suggested that digital instants would be legal, but stopped short of making an absolutely definitive statement on the matter.


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