North Carolina - Guide to NC Lotto Games & Laws

Learn everything you need to know about North Carolina's lottery and scratch-offs

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In 2006, North Carolina welcomed the allure of the lottery, embarking on a journey of chance and fortune. Administered by the North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL), it has since upheld rigorous standards of fair play. Over the years, the lottery has paid out an estimated several billions, becoming a major attraction. But there’s more to it: a significant chunk of the proceeds benefits the Tar Heel State’s educational initiatives. 

Curious about how North Carolina views scratch-off online gambling sites? This North Carolina lottery guide will delve into the state’s lottery regulations, game intricacies, and the wider impact on its communities. Embark on this enlightening exploration of the North Carolina lottery landscape.

North Carolina Online Lottery

The North Carolina Online Lottery provides a digital platform for residents and visitors to participate in various lottery games right from their devices. This initiative, managed by the North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL), not only brings convenience but also ensures security and transparency for players. Participants can engage in draw games, instant win games, and check draw results instantly. The platform represents a modern approach to lottery games, blending traditional excitement with contemporary convenience.

  1. Go to your device’s app store (Google Play for Android, Apple Store for iOS).
  2. In the search bar, type “North Carolina Online Lottery” and press search.
  3. Locate the official app, often represented with the NCEL logo.
  4. Click “Download” or “Install.”
  5. Once downloaded, open the app and follow on-screen instructions to set up your account or log in if you already have one.

The North Carolina Online Lottery app is a comprehensive tool for all lottery enthusiasts. Inside, you can buy lottery tickets for a variety of draw games including Powerball, Mega Millions, and state-specific draws. A fine selection of instant win games, mimicking the scratch-off tickets but in a digital format, is available for immediate play.

Another top feature of the app is its provision of real-time results of all draw games, ensuring you don’t miss out on any potential winnings. If you’d like to scan your physical lottery ticket, the app comes with a camera feature that supports scanning to check for any wins.

From instant alerts on winnings to a secure portal for all financial transactions, the app serves as a hub for all lottery-related information and transactions.

North Carolina Multi-state Draw Games

The heartbeat of lotteries resonates strongly in North Carolina, where dreams of big wins and larger-than-life jackpots beckon residents every day. Multi-state draw games in North Carolina, given their colossal prize pools from combined state participation, make these dreams even more vivid. North Carolina offers an assortment of these games, each with its unique flavor of excitement. Let’s unpack the multi-state draw games that the Tar Heel State has in store for you.


Powerball, the behemoth of lotteries, is no stranger to North Carolina residents. Its vast multi-state pool results in jackpots that often capture national attention. To play, head to any authorized North Carolina lottery retailer and purchase lottery tickets for $2 per play.


Select five numbers from 1 to 69 and one Powerball number from 1 to 26. If number picking isn’t your thing, opt for Quick Pick to have numbers chosen randomly. Powerball offers nine prize tiers. While the jackpot can ascend into hundreds of millions or even more, the lower-tier prizes are also quite substantial.

In 2015, a resident of Shallotte, North Carolina, made headlines by winning one-third of a $564 million jackpot, pocketing a staggering $188 million.

  • The Power Play option, available for an extra $1, can magnify non-jackpot prizes.
  • Draws take place on Wednesday and Saturday nights.
  • Jackpot odds stand at approximately 1 in 292.2 million.
Matching numbers Prize amountOdds
Matching 5 + Powerball$194,000,0001 in 292,201,338
Matching 5 + $1,000,0001 in 11,688,054
Matching 4 + Powerball$50,0001 in 913,130
Matching 4$1001 in 36,525
Matching 3 + Powerball$5001 in 14,495
Matching 3$201 in 580
Matching 2 + Powerball$201 in 702
Matching 1 + Powerball$101 in 92
Matching Powerball only$71 in 38

Mega Millions

Another titan in the world of lotteries, Mega Millions has consistently dished out gargantuan jackpots, etching its mark in the annals of lottery history. Visit any North Carolina authorized lottery outlet and buy a ticket for $2. Choose five numbers from 1 to 70 and a single Mega Ball number from 1 to 25.

Mega Millions

The Easy Pick option allows automatic, random number selection.With nine prize levels, Mega Millions tempts players with its jaw-dropping jackpots. But even without the jackpot, the second prize can make you an instant millionaire.In 2019, a retired shop owner from North Carolina claimed a hefty $1 million prize, matching all five white-ball numbers, only missing the Mega Ball.

  • The Megaplier feature, for an extra $1, can boost non-jackpot prizes significantly.
  • Draws are scheduled for Tuesday and Friday nights.
  • The odds for the jackpot stand at about 1 in 302.5 million.
Matching numbers Prize amountOdds
Matching 5 + Mega BallJackpot 1 in 302,575,350
Matching 5 $1,000,0001 in 12,607,306
Matching 4 + Mega Ball$10,0001 in 931,001
Matching 4$5001 in 36,792
Matching 3 + Mega Ball$2001 in 14,547
Matching 3$101 in 606
Matching 2 + Mega Ball$101 in 693
Matching 1 + Mega Ball$41 in 89
Mega Ball only$21 in 37

Lucky for Life

While it may not have the household name status of the previous two, Lucky for Life promises winners a consistent prize, setting it apart from other games. You can purchase lottery tickets from any North Carolina lottery retailer for only $2 per play. Pick five numbers between 1 and 48 and a Lucky Ball number from 1 to 18. Also, quick pick is available for automatic number selection.

Lucky for Life

Lucky for Life’s unique allure lies in its top prize: $1,000 a day for life. The second prize, not too shabby either, stands at $25,000 a year for life. In 2017, a Durham resident experienced life-changing luck by bagging the second-tier prize of $25,000 a year for life.

  • The game offers lifelong prizes, but with a minimum guarantee of 20 years.
  •  Draws are conducted every Monday and Thursday evening.
  •  The chance to clinch the top prize is roughly 1 in 30.8 million.
Matching numbers Prize amountOdds
Matching 5 + Lucky Ball$1,000/Day for Life1 in 30,821,472
Matching 5 $25,000/Year for Life1 in 1,813,028
Matching 4 + Lucky Ball$2001 in 8,433
Matching 4$1501 in 3,413
Matching 3 + Lucky Ball$201 in 201
Matching 3$251 in 250
Matching 2 + Lucky Ball$31 in 15
Matching 1 + Lucky Ball$61 in 50
Lucky Ball only$41 in 32

North Carolina Draw Games

When the allure of massive multi-state jackpots combines with a strong sense of local community, North Carolina’s local draw games take center stage. Tailored to the Tar Heel State’s residents, these games capture the spirit of North Carolina while offering players a genuine shot at considerable prizes. Let’s navigate through the exciting landscape of local draw games that North Carolina has to serve up.

Carolina Cash 5

A daily game with a rolling jackpot, Carolina Cash 5 stands as a beacon for those hoping to win big without having to compete on a national scale. Find an authorized North Carolina lottery retailer where you can buy lottery tickets for $1 per play. Choose five numbers between 1 and 43. If you’re not feeling particularly decisive, select the Quick Pick option for random number assignment.

Jackpots start at $100,000 and can grow substantially each day until someone wins. In 2020, a local from Winston-Salem scooped up an impressive $482,740 jackpot, turning his regular Carolina Cash 5 play into a monumental victory.

  • The EZ Match option, for an extra $1, gives you a chance to win instant cash.
  • Drawings are held every night.
  • Overall odds of winning a prize are approximately 1 in 10.5.

Carolina Pick 3

With multiple ways to play and win, Carolina Pick 3 is a daily favorite for many North Carolinians. Visit any participating retailer in the state to buy tickets from 50 cents. Pick a three-digit number ranging from 000 to 999. Select your play type: exact, any, 50/50, combo, or pairs.

Starts at 50 cents, but can vary based on play type. Top prizes vary depending on the play type but can go up to $500. In a heartwarming story from 2019, a Fayetteville grandmother won $2,700, playing her grandkids’ birthdays and vowed to spoil them with her winnings.

  • The Sum + It + Up feature, for an extra 50 cents, offers more chances to win based on the sum of your numbers.
  • Draws occur twice daily.
  • Different play types offer varied odds, so choose wisely!

Carolina Pick 4

Building on the thrill of Pick 3, Carolina Pick 4 offers higher prizes and more ways to score a win. Secure your ticket for 50 cents from an authorized North Carolina retailer. Choose a four-digit number, ranging from 0000 to 9999. Top prizes can soar up to $5,000, depending on how you decide to play.

In 2018, a Rocky Mount resident turned a fortuitous feeling into a $5,000 win, having played the exact same number that had won him a prize a decade earlier.

  • Incorporating the Sum + It + Up feature can increase winning chances.
  • Drawings are held twice daily.
  • As with Pick 3, your odds and potential payouts fluctuate based on your play type.

Carolina Keno

A fast-paced game that can be played every four minutes, Carolina Keno keeps the excitement rolling all day long. To participate, head to a Keno location in North Carolina and get a ticket for $1. Choose from 1 to 10 numbers (spots) out of a pool of 80. Determine your wager amount and how many consecutive drawings you’d like to enter. The top prize for a 10-spot game is a whopping $100,000.

A local from Raleigh, in 2019, managed to snag $10,000 on an 8-spot game, crediting sheer luck for his win.

  • The more spots you play, the higher the potential prize.
  • Draws happen every four minutes, making it one of the most frequent games.
  • The game can be played at specific Keno locations, including bars and restaurants.

North Carolina Number Drawing Schedule

The North Carolina Lottery boasts a diverse range of games, each featuring its unique draw schedule. Below is a detailed table providing a glance at the drawing times for every game throughout the week.

Mega Millions11:00 PM11:00 PM
Powerball10:59 PM10:59 PM
Lucky for Life10:35PM10:35PM
Pick 43:00 PM11:22 PM3:00 PM 11:22 PM3:00 PM 11:22 PM3:00 PM 11:22 PM3:00 PM 11:22 PM3:00 PM 11:22 PM3:00 PM11:22 PM
Cash 511:22 PM11:22 PM11:22 PM11:22 PM11:22 PM11:22 PM11:22 PM
Times Based on Central Time (GMT-4:00)

North Carolina Scratch Tickets

In the vibrant world of the North Carolina Lottery, scratch tickets stand out as an instant thrill. As you peel away the silver layer, the anticipation builds, offering immediate satisfaction or the hope for next time. For many in the Tar Heel State, these tickets are not just about potential financial gain but also about the sheer excitement of the reveal. Let’s delve into some of the most popular scratch-offs available to you.

Scratch off nameTicket PriceMaximum Win
Carolina Millions$20$1,000,000
Lucky 7s$5$200,000
Platinum Payout           $10$1,000,000
Holiday Cash      $2$50,000
$150 Million Cash Explosion$20$4,000,000

North Carolina Laws

In the Tar Heel State, the lottery operates under a well-defined set of regulations that ensure its credibility and the protection of participants. As you explore the North Carolina lottery landscape, familiarizing yourself with these laws is essential to ensure a hassle-free experience. These regulations cover everything from the age requirement to the intricacies of taxation. Here’s a handy table summarizing the pivotal legal facets you ought to know.

AspectNorth Carolina Lottery Law
Legal age for lottery game18  years
Tax on winnings5.75% state tax; federal taxes also apply
Anonymity for winnersNo  
Limit to claim win180 days from drawing
Online lotteryNo

Overview of the North Carolina Lottery

In North Carolina, the main lottery, known as the North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL), has been a significant player in the gaming landscape since its inception. Established to support educational initiatives, the lottery provides both entertainment for its players and essential funding for the state’s educational programs. The thrill of the game, combined with its noble mission, makes it a favorite among many North Carolinians. Here’s a concise breakdown of key details about the NCEL:

AspectNorth Carolina Law
Company NameNorth Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL)
Founded Date March 30, 2006  
HeadquartersRaleigh, North Carolina

One of the standout features of the North Carolina Education Lottery is how it allocates its proceeds. A significant chunk of the lottery’s gaming revenue is channeled towards educational purposes across the state. This includes funding for school construction, pre-kindergarten programs for at-risk four-year-olds, and college scholarships. Additionally, if you’re fortunate enough to secure a win, be aware that winnings are subject to a 5.75% state tax, along with federal taxes.

Other Gambling in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the gambling landscape is a mix of traditional and modern options with certain limitations. The state operates its own lottery, the North Carolina Education Lottery, which offers a variety of draw games, scratch-off tickets, and multi-state jackpots. While commercial casinos are not permitted, North Carolina is home to a few tribal casinos operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, offering slot machines and table games. 

Additionally, charitable bingo, raffles, and beach bingo are lawful forms of gambling in the state. However, North Carolina maintains a conservative stance on sports betting and other forms of gambling, which remain prohibited.

North Carolina Lottery Winners

In North Carolina, countless dreams have turned into reality thanks to the state’s lottery. Residents have been thrilled to discover those magic numbers, turning ordinary days into extraordinary memories. The state has witnessed a slew of winners over the years, from sudden millionaires to those who’ve enjoyed smaller, yet still significant, windfalls. Their stories of luck and fortune captivate and inspire, illustrating the unexpected joys the North Carolina Lottery brings.

NameDateWin AmountGame
Charles Jackson 2019$344.6 millionPowerball 
Marie Holmes2015$188 millionPowerball 
Frank Griffin2017 $2 millionMega Millions
Linda Tate2018$1 millionPowerball 


What does the phrase “Second Chance” on my ticket mean?

The phrase “Second Chance” on your lottery ticket refers to a special drawing that allows non-winning tickets another opportunity to win prizes. Rather than discarding a ticket that didn’t win in the initial drawing, players can enter these tickets into a separate “Second Chance” drawing. These promotions are designed to provide added value and excitement for players by giving them an additional shot at winning. To participate, you typically need to register the ticket on the lottery’s official website or through its designated platform.

Do lottery laws differ in all US states?

Yes, lottery and gambling laws do differ across U.S. states. Each state has the autonomy to establish its own regulations regarding the operation, sales, and distribution of lottery games. This leads to variations in the types of games offered, the age requirements to purchase tickets, and the allocation of revenue generated. Additionally, while some states have a state-sanctioned lottery, others have chosen not to establish one at all.

Can I play lotteries for real money at online casinos in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, real money casinos online are not legally authorized to offer lottery games for real money. So, you won’t find legitimate online casinos within the state where you can play lotteries for cash. Always ensure you’re adhering to state regulations when participating in any form of gambling.

Why do North Carolina lotteries not offer fixed prizes?

North Carolina lotteries often use a pari-mutuel system for their prize structures. This means that the prize amounts depend on the total ticket sales for a specific game and the number of winners in each prize category. As a result, instead of having fixed prizes, the amount you could win in North Carolina lotteries can fluctuate based on ticket sales and the number of other winners.

Can winners of the North Carolina lottery maintain their anonymity?

Yes, in North Carolina, if you win the lottery, you have the option to maintain your anonymity. This means you can choose not to have your name, city, and prize amount disclosed to the public. It’s a measure to protect your privacy and security after a significant win.

Is there an app for the North Carolina lottery?

Yes, the North Carolina Lottery has an official app available. With this app, you can scan your tickets to check for winners, view current jackpot amounts, and stay updated on the latest games and promotions. It’s a handy way for you to manage and keep up with your lottery activities on the go.

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