Security officials at the N.C. Education Lottery recently completed a new statewide test of integrity of stores selling lottery tickets and saw those checked achieve a 99.2 percent compliance rate, the highest rate so far.
The campaign, conducted between November 2016 and June 2018, checked 247 retail locations in 47 counties and 108 cities and towns, and 245 passed.
“Retailers who sell lottery tickets are great partners and their work helps ensure that North Carolinians collect the prizes that they win,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the North Carolina Education Lottery.
Michalko said in addition to strict security practices, such as the compliance checks, the lottery also has invested in equipment for every store that allows players to check their own tickets. “This way, a ticket with a prize on it never has to leave a winner’s hands,” he said.
Every location that sells lottery tickets now has either a ticket checker or a lottery vending machine with a ticket checker. And the lottery’s smartphone app, the N.C. Lottery Official Mobile App, has a ticket-checking function that allows players to use the app’s camera to scan the ticket’s bar code to see if it is a winner.
Checks during the latest campaign involved a lottery investigator and law enforcement officers from local and state agencies presenting to a retailer a special lottery ticket that looked exactly like the other tickets in a scratch-off game with a prize exceeding $600.
All but two of the 247 retailers complied with lottery policies and procedures by telling an undercover investigator posing as a lottery player that the ticket was a winner and the prize must be claimed at a lottery office.
Two retail employees told the investigator the ticket was a non-winning ticket and kept it. Criminal charges are pending against the retail employees involved in both cases. The lottery also took administrative action, including terminating ticket sales at stores involved in one of the cases.
“Two cases of a retailer taking someone’s prize are two cases too many,” Michalko said. “We want all our retailers to pass this test. We’ll continue training retailers and providing tools to players to protect themselves with the goal of achieving 100 percent compliance.”
To keep winning tickets secure, lottery players should immediately sign the back of the ticket to establish ownership. Lottery players also can help keep games secure by reporting any suspicious activity or concerns to the lottery’s Security Hotline at (888) 732-6235.