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    Lottery Commission Approves Contract for North Carolina Retailers

    While profit margin is small for convenience stores, retailers hope lottery ticket sales will increase customer traffic.

    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The North Carolina Lottery Commission is closer to putting together a network of ticket retailers after approving a proposed contract with about 30 guidelines for stores, reported the Associated Press.

    A statewide database already has provided a list of 10,000 potential retailers, lottery executive director Tom Shaheen told the Winston-Salem Journal . State law does not cap the number of places that will qualify to sell lottery tickets, and it is unclear how many retailers will qualify to sell them.

    Shaheen wants instant-win tickets on sale by April 5, followed by Powerball in July and other number games in the fall.

    Some storeowners already are figuring out their marketing plans, the newspaper reported.

    "My plan is to put little toppers out on the pumps and put a big sign on the road: 'Lottery tickets being sold,'” Ben Dhillon, the owner of Pit Stop Food & Beverage in Winston-Salem, told the newspaper.

    Dhillon said in the report that between 500 and 600 people come to his store each day, and he expects that most of them would buy tickets.

    The contract approved last week requires retailers to "make every effort" to display outside signs, though local ordinances may block that from happening. Retailers also will be barred from living in the same household as lottery employees and giving lottery employees large gifts, according to the report.

    They will have to undergo background checks, offer all available scratch tickets and pay a $15 weekly fee for each location to help defray the costs of equipment. Retailers will keep 7 percent of their lottery sales and any bonuses that lottery officials award.

    The profit margin is smaller than on many items in a convenience store, but retailers hope to come out ahead if the lottery brings more people.

    "I think they would buy stuff in the store when they come to buy lottery tickets, and I think that would help the store," Wilma Hall, the owner of Mimi's Mini Mart near High Rock Lake, told the Winston-Salem Journal .

    The contract allows tickets to be bought with cash, checks, debit cards and gift cards, but not with credit cards. They also cannot be bought with food stamps. Retailers will not be allowed to be "engaged exclusively" in lottery sales, according to the report.

    The lottery is expected to generate $425 million in proceeds annually to the state. Half is to go to hire more elementary school teachers and expand a pre-kindergarten program, 40 percent would go to help counties build schools and 10 percent would go to college scholarships, the newspaper reported.

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