North Carolina has bucked a national trend of lower spending on state-run gambling partly thanks to the surprise performance of a twice-daily game with low payouts.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Tuesday that sales of the Pick 3 game have been strong despite the recession.
State lottery officials say they have been surprised by a sustained 40 percent increase in sales of tickets for the game since adding a second daily drawing in March 2008.
Players bought more than $200 million worth of tickets in the most recent fiscal year, an amount similar to spending on the big-payout Powerball.
The game costs just 50 cents or a dollar and lets gamblers pick three numbers they think will be drawn. The maximum win is $500.