General Lottery

Q: Where can I buy tickets?
A: The NCEL currently has over 5,500 retailers throughout North Carolina. You can recognize a Lottery retailer by the PLAY HERE signs that are posted in or around their store. To locate a retailer in your area use our zip code search for a list of locations near you.
Q: Are prizes taxable?
A: Yes. All prizes won are subject to Federal and State withholdings. For more specific information, please contact the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-1040 or www.irs.gov.
Q: What happens if I lose a winning ticket?
A: If you lose your ticket, anyone can claim it. A ticket is a bearer instrument until signed. Unless you sign the ticket, anyone else who has the ticket can claim the prize.
Q: How long do I have to collect a prize?
A: For instant scratch-off games, you have 90 days from the official announced end of game. If mailed, the ticket must be received by the NCEL within 90 days. Postmarks will not satisfy this requirement. Online tickets (like Powerball) must be redeemed within 180 days of the drawing for which the ticket was purchased.
Q: What are the odds of winning a prize in the Lottery?
A: The odds of winning vary by game and are printed on the back of every instant scratch-off ticket. You can also obtain the odds of a particular game by checking the How to Play section of this website or by picking up a How To Play brochure at your local retailer.
Q: What does “Overall Odds” mean?
A: Overall odds provide the average amount of winning tickets per game. For example, if a game has odds of 1 in 4, that means that over an entire pack of tickets, there will be one winning ticket per every four tickets. However, because prizes are distributed randomly throughout a pack, it does not mean that there will be a winning ticket every 4th ticket.
Q: How old do I have to be to play?
A: You must be at least 18 years of age or older to play.
Q: Can I use a credit card to purchase lottery tickets?
A: No. Acceptable forms of payment include cash, check, debit card, and gift card at the retailer's discretion.
Q: Can I buy lottery tickets through the mail?
A: No. North Carolina Education Lottery tickets must be purchased at a retailer under contract with the Lottery. In addition, federal law and postal regulations do not allow an unplayed lottery ticket to be mailed across state lines.
Q: If I should win a large top prize, do I have the option of remaining anonymous with regard to the media and the public?
A: The NCEL will consider a winner’s name, city/county, and the prize amount a matter of public record, unless the winner produces a valid protective order or Address Confidentiality Program authorization card.
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