Lottery tickets boost sales for convenience stores

Thursday, October 19th 2006, 9:51 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ After one year of a state lottery, retailers that sell tickets have made $15.27 million in commission profits, lottery officials reported.

About 2,200 convenience stores, grocers and smoke shops statewide sell lottery tickets. The retailers make 6.3 % on every $1 sold, said Jim Scroggins, director of the Oklahoma Lottery Commission.

``The people that came in Day One and are happy with their sales, they're staying in,'' commission Director Jim Scroggins said.

Only a few retailers have opted out. The stores that didn't renew their yearly contracts either went out of business or sold very few lottery tickets during the first year, Scroggins said.

But retailers say it's more than commission that bolsters a store's bottom line.

Felix Miranda, manager at a Conoco gas station in Edmond, said the lottery customers boost overall store sales.

``People come to buy a lottery ticket, and they buy a Coke, as well,'' Miranda said.

On average, frequent lottery customers spend a lot more than nonlottery customers, said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores.

A 1997 study conducted by the association found that frequent lottery customers spend more than $3 more per purchase.

For this reason, the Lottery Commission continues to get new applications from retailers every week, Scroggins said.

Large retailers are selling more convenience items daily, so operators see the lottery as a way to drive traffic back into their parking lots, Lenard said.

``It's about getting customers in the store, because you don't make money on gas,'' Leonard said.

However, if the increased traffic turns into long lines, it also can drive away regular customers who only want a quick cup of coffee.

``Lines are the enemy of convenience stores,'' Leonard said.

To combat long lines, the Lottery Commission installs stand-alone machines in travel plazas and grocery stores. At these machines customers can buy tickets and play all of the lottery games.

Although sales are important, they're not paramount.

``What is more important is to make profit, because that is what will go toward education,'' Scroggins said.

Since the lottery began, $86,401,337 has been transferred to the Oklahoma Education Lottery Fund.