Nash County is a poor rural county Northeast of Raleigh. Its median income is below the state average, yet has the highest per capita sales in the state for the North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL): two and a half times the average last year.
In 2010 alone, the amount of money spent by Nash County residents on the lottery resulted in over $22 million pouring out of the county. During this same time, Nash County experienced over 12 percent unemployment.
Bradley Morgan, former Nash County Commission Chair, lamented the net loss of wealth from his county.
“We should at least be getting a fair share of how much we put in,” Morgan said, referring to lottery proceeds that don’t fall proportionately according to the amount each county puts in.
Morgan regrets that so many people in his county are, “looking for the pie in the sky,” and use the lottery to reach out for a nearly impossible hope of hitting the jackpot. Morgan states the he personally has only played the lottery once in his life.
Despite Morgan’s concern, the Nash County website’s homepage proudly advertises the NCEL and the money its programs have put into the community.
In 2010 Nash County spent nearly $38 million on the lottery, and received only 40 percent of that back. The money comes back through the revenue created by local lottery vendors, prize money, and the state budget disbursements of lottery proceeds.
On the other hand, counties in the far West of the state put little into the lottery and have net dollar gains from state lottery proceeds. Buncombe County received $68 million more than it put into the lottery in 2010.
The lottery is draining millions of dollars from many counties in the state. Other counties get a nice influx of dollars from the lottery proceeds. Is your county a winner or loser of the North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL)?
Next week, Civitas will release statewide data on total county dollars gained or lost in recent years through the North Carolina Education Lottery.
Lottery prize winners vary widely by year, so it is difficult to get a long term picture of how much money is leaving the county, so a one-year snapshot is the only tool available to evaluate a county net gain or loss. The calculation of gain/loss is a combination of total count lottery sales, minus vendor retail, prizes, and subsequent year NCEL education funds received by the county. These figures combined give an approximation of the net gain or loss in total lottery dollars experienced by counties across the state.