N.C. lottery adds MegaMillions to its line

The North Carolina lottery commission voted unanimously Monday to add MegaMillions to its lineup, giving the state a second multistate game with eye-popping jackpots.

MegaMillions tickets could start selling as early as Jan. 31. North Carolina has sold Powerball tickets since 2006, the year the state lottery began, with two drawings a week, on Wednesday and Saturday.

The addition of MegaMillions will give players two more drawings a week, Tuesday and Friday, in which the jackpot can balloon to $200 million or more.

Lottery officials are betting that the additional game will boost revenue in a market that is constantly looking for new options to offer players.

Neighboring states Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia have already voted to sell two games, and South Carolina is scheduled to vote next Tuesday.

"By selling both games in North Carolina, there's an opportunity to increase sales by 18 to 25 percent," said lottery director Tom Shaheen. Last year sales topped $1 billion.

North Carolina likely will get a boost from players in the state who have been driving across the border to Virginia to play MegaMillions but likely will lose Virginia players who have crossed the line for Powerball tickets.

The cross-selling follows a year of negotiations between the associations representing the groups of states that sell each game.

"Everybody's always looking for ways to increase sales," Shaheen said, "because they have to increase returns to their beneficiaries."