CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - They say all you need is a dollar and a dream.
We buy lottery tickets because there is that chance we could hit it big and make all of our dreams come true.
It turns out there is a secret that can help increase your odds of winning the big prize, at least when it comes to those popular "scratch tickets".
The "secret" comes straight from the Executive Director of the North Carolina Education Lottery.
After receiving requests from avid scratch-ticket buyers, the Lottery decided it would post online a list of each existing game and the odds of winning each prize level.
"That list is updated every morning so you simply go online and can check, based on the sales from the end of the day before, how many prizes are left within that individual instant game," said Lottery director Alice Garland.
As soon as all of the top prizes of a particular game have been claimed, that ticket is pulled from store shelves. Occasionally a ticket with some top prizes remaining will also be pulled, if 95% of the remaining prizes have already been claimed.
It was something Reid Baker was happy to hear. He buys a few lottery tickets each month and recently had a surprise when trying to buy his favorite instant lottery game ticket.
"The clerk told me they were told to take that game off of store shelves because the last grand prize had already been claimed. Then I saw that game still being sold in another store. It made me wonder how many people bought that ticket without having any idea the grand prize was no longer available," Baker said.
Garland said the Lottery alerts retailers right away if a game is to be pulled.
"It's rare that it would stay on the shelf very long after we've told them," she added.
The South Carolina Education Lottery also lists the prizes remaining for its instant games. Click here to see.
If you'd like more information about how the North Carolina Education Lottery hands out money to local schools, click here and also watch the exclusive web-only video on this page.
If you'd like more information about getting assistance with a gambling problem, click here.