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N.J. mom-and-pop lottery retailers worried about competition

Apr 14, 2008, 9:48 am

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New Jersey Lottery

Buying a lottery ticket when picking up a quart of milk might be par for the course. But if a state marketing plan is enacted, customers soon might buy tickets while purchasing furniture and home goods, too.

To raise more revenue, state Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, is proposing that the state encourage big stores to sell New Jersey Lottery tickets, including Target, Home Depot and Dunkin' Donuts. Normally the domain of smaller convenience stores and food markets, lottery sales are not banned in larger stores, but the plan seeks to expand ticket sales to those retailers.

The proposed expansion raises the question of whether the approach will hurt smaller stores that rely on the lottery to draw customers into their stores.

"That sounds like the state of New Jersey. They'll sell lottery everywhere," said Dino Delprete, owner of Dino's Deli & Subs in Egg Harbor Township.

Local store managers who sell lottery tickets say there's always competition, whether from chain stores or grocery stores.

"It won't make an impact to the point where I'd go outside and scream," said Ken Patel, manager of a 7-Eleven store in Northfield. "It won't make a difference." He pointed out that lottery tickets are already sold at larger venues like ShopRite and Genuardi's.

"People sell lottery tickets down the street," Delprete said. "The impact is when they start selling them and then people eventually go back to where they used to buy them. People leave but then they come back."

Since Delprete's store sells groceries and deli food along with lottery tickets, any loss from ticket sales wouldn't hurt him as much as a retailer whose main products include lottery tickets. Still, he cites the location of his store as a prime factor.

"We're a mom-and-pop store," Delprete said. "Those Wal-Marts and stuff are 10 miles away. Where it would affect people are people that are close to those places."

Stephon Hunter, manager of Allstar Liquors on Atlantic Avenue in Atlantic City, agrees.

"I'm in Atlantic City so it's not going to affect me," Hunter said. "I'm for the revenue if it's going to bring taxes down." He said he might have another opinion if he was actually in close proximity to a Target or Wal-Mart that might sell lottery tickets under Codey's plan.

The case is the same at Pleasantville Check Cashing & Lottery, where most customers live locally and the nearest Target is 20 minutes away, store employees said.

Yet residents of local suburbs, such as Louis Monzo of Galloway Township, said picking up the tickets would be easier if it could be made a part of their routine.

"You don't always want to run to the liquor store just to get lottery tickets," Monzo said as he was finishing his shopping at Target in Mays Landing with Kathy Oliver, also of Galloway Township. "We're in Target and Wal-Mart at least once a week."

"I hate going to the liquor store," Oliver said. Both said they would likely buy tickets more often if they were sold at bigger stores they frequent.

Angela Callari, of Absecon, agreed that having lottery tickets available at the store would save her an extra trip.

"I'd buy them anywhere," Callari said. "Just for the convenience of it. I don't think it would hurt."

Codey has talked about offering big stores lottery games tailored to their businesses, like scratch-offs that offer store discounts to winners. While convenience stores, liquor stores and local independent stores are known for selling lottery tickets, those shopping the big stores maintained the effect of widening ticket sales would be minimal.

"I think it's a different clientele," said Elizabeth Little, of Brigantine.

Stewart Holzman, of Penns Grove, said he would buy lottery tickets anywhere they're sold.

"There are too many people; why would it take away business?" Holzman said.

"People will buy them any place they can get the lottery tickets," said Frank Vecchiarello, of Marlton. "They'll probably sell more lottery tickets that way."

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