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    Oklahoma Retailers Prep for Lottery

    Grocery and gas station owners gather to question lottery director.

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma retailers filed the required applications and got a gander at machinery that may be used to sell Oklahoma lottery tickets during a meeting at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, reported the Lottery Post.

    They had been waiting for this day since that November election night when Oklahoma voters enthusiastically endorsed a state lottery.

    Gas station and grocery store owners also had some questions for Jim Scroggins, the state's lottery director, and Scott Meacham, the governor's point man for the lottery.

    Scroggins told the Oklahoma Grocers Association that retailers can expect about 6 percent from each ticket sold. He said he expects about 80 percent of the tickets to be sold in grocery and convenience stores. He also predicted Oklahoma will have 3,500 lottery outlets -- one for every 1,000 residents.

    The lottery is expected to offer scratch-off tickets in October and electronic tickets a few months later, with a multi-state offering such as Powerball coming next year. It is expected to generate $150 million a year for education when fully implemented.

    Oklahoma's lottery law requires 30 cents from each dollar to go to education. Scroggins predicts 50 percent will go to prizes, with 20 percent left over for retailers and operational costs.

    For the first time, grocers and gasoline retailers merged their annual tradeshows because of their mutual interest in selling lottery tickets. Lottery applications for 621 retail outlets were turned in during the tradeshow.

    Shirley and Denny Combs, who own a Conoco station east of Eufaula, Okla., are as interested in who the competition will be as when tickets will be available.

    They are concerned tribal casinos, with a steady flow of proven gamblers, will undercut retailers.

    "Right now, they have a monopoly. It just seems unfair," Shirley Combs said.

    Meacham, the new state treasurer, said the lottery law doesn't permit casinos to be excluded from selling tickets.

    In fact, New Mexico's lottery director recently urged Oklahoma's lottery commissioners to form an alliance with casinos, saying the partnership had worked well in that state.

    Such ideas won't sit well with convenience store and gas station owners, many of whom voiced their ire at Meacham on Wednesday for a new tobacco tax structure that seems to favor tribal smokeshops.

    Meacham told them he is seeking legislative changes to balance the competitive edge.

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