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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Lottery Board is looking to sign up between 3,500 and 4,000 vendors statewide to sell tickets once the lottery is in place, possibly as early as December. But while some local convenience store owners are eager for the chance to sell lottery tickets, some aren't sure of the legality and at least one wants no part of the lottery.
Pam Jones of J&D BP Market says they are "doing their best" to get the lottery's business. The store has been in business for 20 years, so fits the Lottery Board's criteria for "reputable standing in their community."
If Tennessee follows the pattern set by other states that have adopted a lottery, customers might be able to buy tickets at grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations. Other state lottery boards have made agreements with large chain grocery stores or fuel companies like Conoco and Texaco for their franchised stores throughout a state to sell tickets.
Then there's the smaller, mom-and-pop operations in rural parts of the area. How about the convenience stores where you can get gasoline as well as bait, biscuits and bread? The feeling among those contacted last week is mixed. Most are taking a "wait and see" attitude.
Billy Huber, who owns and operates Huber's convenience store in rural Winchester, Tenn., said he's interested in lottery ticket sales, but only if it doesn't impact the business he and his wife Linda have built up over the past five years. He said some of his customers from other states where lottery tickets are sold tell him horror stories about people forsaking food for their families, just to take a chance on a state lottery win.
Huber, however, is still waiting for information from the lottery board on its rules for ticket vendors. He said he wants to remain a family convenience store. If the lottery requires additional employees, or creates long lines and congestion at his store, it would no longer be "convenient" and he may decline to sell tickets. The Tennessee Education Lottery Board plans to announce rules its vendors over the next few months.
So far more than 500 vendors have expressed an interest in selling tickets just as soon as the lottery is up and running.