06/26/06 — Lottery takes some explaining

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Lottery takes some explaining

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 26, 2006 1:47 PM

Playing the lottery is not simply a matter of coming in, marking numbers and walking away with a prize-winning ticket, lottery retailers say.

Instead, some store clerks say they are spending time educating new customers on not only the choice of games, but on how to play the newest gamble, Powerball.

Lottery ticket merchants say customers have a learning curve when it comes to the new game. And selling lottery tickets is time-consuming for the merchants. It takes their time away from helping their regular customers, merchants say.

But Patty Tripp at the New Hope Road Wilco Hess still loves to watch them learn.

"When they first came out with the scratch tickets, there were folks throwing tickets away not realizing they were winning," she said.

Christine Megginson at the Short Stop on N.C. 111 encourages her Powerball customers to take another step and do the Power Play, too.

A Powerball ticket is $1, and you pick five white ball numbers and one Powerball number, and then you can do the power play for another $1, and that give you several ways to win.

"I play the Power Play," she said. "It's worth the dollar."

A Duplin man who recently won $200,000 playing Powerball could have received $1 million by dropping a $1 and playing Power Play, which doubles, triples and quadruples the lucky ticketholder's winnings.

And that dollar paid off for a pool of eight employees at a Goldsboro business last week. They tripled their winnings.

Jasmine Ortiz at the Indian Springs Emmaus Church Road Friendly Mart spends a lot of time explaining the games to her customers.

She said sales are good on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the days of the Powerball drawings.

"We have to open both cash registers. It gets real busy."

She is seeing a lot of new faces, and they are becoming regular customers.

The Powerball tickets are more popular than scratch-off tickets at her store.

"We don't get as many scratch-off now that Powerball has started," she said.

And she said she often gets people who have never played the lottery coming in to ask about it. Some of them bring in their ticket on Sunday and Thursday and see if they won.

Lottery sales have been good for business in other ways, Ms. Ortiz said.

Powerball is especially popular with her Hispanic customers, who must also love milk, she said.

Her boss used to get 140 gallons a week, and now, the store has had to up the order to 180 gallons a week to keep up with the demand. Ms. Ortiz said her Hispanic customers come in and play and grab six or eight gallons of milk while they are there.

"I'm still running out on Fridays," she said about the milk, which sells for $2.79 a gallon.

Sales are slower for the scratch-off tickets.

"We used to get in scratch-off deliveries twice a week, but now, we get them only once every two weeks," Ms. Ortiz said.

She said she sells an easy 1,000 tickets on a Wednesday and a Saturday, "and this is a small store," she said.

Why is the Powerball so popular with her customers?

She thinks it's because they have their eyes on the $1 million jackpot.

"When they come in the first thing they ask is, 'Did anybody win the $1 million?'"