RALEIGH – For the first time in its history, the N.C. Education Lottery achieved a key milestone with its instant ticket sales of more than $1 billion.

With four sales days remaining, the Education Lottery cleared the $1 billion in instant sales mark on Wednesday. The lottery expects to end the fiscal year with a five percent overall increase in its instant sales, as compared to last year. The Education Lottery, which is completing its seventh full year, becomes the 12th lottery to achieve $1 billion in instant sales in a year. Only two others, the Texas Lottery and the California Lottery, reached the $1 billion milestone quicker.

Alice Garland, executive director of the lottery, said instant games are the most popular with North Carolina lottery players, accounting for about 60 percent of all sales. Increasing instant sales, she said, means the lottery produces more money for important education programs in the state. Garland attributed the lottery’s achievement to a plan created two years ago to improve instant sales. The plan set the $1 billion goal as a measurement of its success.

“We knew that if we could grow our core product of instant games, then we could improve the overall performance of our lottery,” said Garland. “We’ve been focused on this goal, so we’re pleased to see how popular our instant games have become with our players.”

The plan took steps to improve the overall portfolio of instant games and their prizes, to create more effective sales practices, including how instant tickets are allocated and then sold in stores, and to strengthen the advertising and marketing programs supporting instant games.

“You can see the new strategy at work in many ways,” said Garland. “We create family of games such as the Bucks family – Junior Big Ol’ Bucks, Lady Bucks, Mega Bucks and Jumbo Bucks – and the Week for Life series as core sets of games that are always in stores. We launch suites of games, such as the $1, $2, $5, and $10 Monopoly tickets, backed with advertising and marketing programs that support all price points at the same time, creating awareness of lower priced tickets that otherwise would not have been advertised. We distribute and display tickets in new ways to ensure higher profiles in retail locations. Altogether, it adds up to a new winning formula for our instant games.”