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Oklahoma border residents unable to buy lottery tickets

Oct 13, 2005, 8:52 am

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Oklahoma Lottery

First day lottery sales exceeded $1.2 million

Five a.m. came and went without the fuss other parts of Oklahoma experienced Wednesday, the first day of the state's new lottery.

West Siloam Conoco's sign welcomed crafters, not lottery fans. The store opened without any lines of customers — or instant scratch-off tickets.

"Our understanding is that no one has everything in this part of the state," said store owner Rhonda Favano. The equipment is ready, but Favano and her husband, Frank, are waiting on a UPS delivery truck for tickets.

"It could be as soon as tomorrow," she said Wednesday afternoon.

Three other gasoline stations in West Siloam Springs lacked both equipment and tickets. A clerk at the Anderson's gas station said she wasn't sure whether her station would sell tickets.

Beverly Hughes, director of sales and marketing for the Lottery Commission, said in an Associated Press interview that a backlog of stores seeking approval to sell the tickets meant some had not received their lottery equipment or tickets. About 1,800 stores have sought approval, with dozens of applications arriving daily, she said.

Dozens of people from Oklahoma and Arkansas streamed into West Siloam Springs gas stations looking for a store selling tickets. Arkansas does not have a lottery.

"We just don't know employee-wise whether it will take up a whole person's time," Favano said of the lottery's potential popularity.

In Tulsa, a convenience store sold nearly 400 tickets two hours after the lottery kicked off. Oklahoma joined 40 other states Wednesday offering lotteries. Four different scratch-off tickets went on sale at about 1,200 businesses across the state.

Doris Cheatwood of Watts borrowed four quarters and a ride from her son to try her luck Wednesday at the Phillips 66 gas station in West Siloam Springs.

"Every time I needed money, I won," Cheatwood said about playing the lottery in Kansas.

"If I needed groceries and I had a dollar or two left, I went and bought a ticket. I'd always win like $20 and $50," she said. "It was always when I needed it. God blessed me. I think it's a God's blessing that they brought (the lottery) here."

She plans to come back when tickets are available. The store should have tickets no later than Monday, the clerk said.

Oklahomans approved the lottery last year in a referendum. Officials predict the lottery will bring in $65 million for the rest of the fiscal year ending June 30 and as much at $150 million a year after that. Oklahoma is scheduled to join the national Powerball system in January. Online lottery sales are scheduled to start in November.

By 3 p.m., first day lottery sales exceeded $1.2 million, said Jim Scroggins, the lottery's executive director, in an Associated Press interview.

Toni Gifford, West Siloam Spring's town court clerk, isn't really interested in playing the lottery. The lottery really isn't a big deal, she said, partly because the casino is down the road.

Wednesday was just another day, Howard Woods said. He doesn't expect to buy any tickets.

"It's a chance you take when you buy one. Nine times out of 10 you won't win. But it goes to schools and that's a good thing," he said.

Arkansans in Siloam Springs seemed more excited about the arrival of a lottery in the neighboring border town.

"I think it's wonderful. I'd like it even better if Arkansas sold them," said Louise Workman. "We need the income. That's money for schools and roads. If people are going to do it anyway, why should other states get the money."

Her co-workers at a Siloam Springs auto parts store joined her in welcoming the lottery.

"I went down there this morning," Jeramie McGowen said.

"It'd keep me from driving to Missouri," said Alan Lockhart, who didn't know about the lottery starting.

"I think I'll start saving my bingo money and go over there and buy lottery tickets," Roger Baker said.

The tickets come in denominations of $1, $2 and $5. The maximum prize for the $1 ticket, "Lucky 7s," is $777. The two $2 games — "Rush to Cash" and Oklahoma Gusher" —feature maximum prizes of $5,000. The $5 game —"25,000 Jackpot" — has a top prize of $25,000.

Education will get 30 percent of net lottery sales the first year and 35 percent after that. The rest of the money will go to prizes and toward the cost of operating the lottery.

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