Most Callers To NC Gambling Hotline Want Lottery Information, Not Help

It's a lottery helpline set up to counsel those with gambling problems. But most callers have different needs.

Like what are the winning Powerball numbers? And can you help me with this scratch-off ticket?

The 24-hour phone number -- 877-718-5543 -- is printed on every North Carolina Education Lottery ticket and scratch card. The Problem Gambling Helpline is also repeated on T-V and radio ads.

Even so, up to 85 percent of callers during the lottery's first year didn't ask for help for problem gambling.

Of some 300 calls to the helpline last month, more than 250 were screened out as not having a gambling problem.

Smith Worth is director of the state's Problem Gambling Program. He's not worried about the misuse, noting that other state lotteries report the same confusion.