Legislators have debated adding $10 million in advertising funds and allowing for the development of electronic gambling apps, resulting in $53.2 million for education funds, according to N.C. Education Lottery spokesman Van Denton.
“The main reason the lottery is here is to raise money for a good cause,” Denton said. “It makes a big difference in every county across the state.”
Last year, the lottery gave $522.4 million to education funds for classroom teachers, school construction, pre-kindergarten programs, need-based scholarships and financial aid.
But Matt Ellinwood, a policy analyst for the left-leaning N.C. Justice Center, said changes in the law have diverted funds and decreased per-pupil spending with regards to inflation statewide.
“The idea originally was that it would just be extra money from what we already spend on education,” he said. “There was that initial bump right after the lottery started, but now we’re spending less per student.”
He said the lottery functions as an extremely inefficient way to generate education funds because only a part of each dollar goes to education.
Sarah Ovaska-Few, a reporter for the left-leaning think tank N.C. Policy Watch, said poorer North Carolina counties have higher per capita sales of lottery tickets.
Halifax County has the second-highest per-capita lottery ticket sales, but 27.4 percent of its population were living below the poverty line in 2013 — 10 percent above the state average of people living below the poverty line. Denton attributes higher sales in these areas to outside factors, such as increased traffic from I-95, which runs through Halifax County.