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    Retailers Eager to Sell Lottery Tickets

    South Carolina convenience store owners will begin selling lottery tickets this fall.

    Just two weeks after an amendment was passed to institute a state lottery, state gaming officials said they are being flooded with calls from convenience stores wanting a piece of the action.

    According to lawmakers, consumers should be able to play scratch-off and instant games on Nov. 1. Pick 3 and Pick 4 games will begin in the spring. Lottery organizers estimate about 3,000 businesses will sell tickets in South Carolina.

    Retailers will get to keep 7 percent of all ticket sales and 2 percent of the money from a winning ticket, according to the plan, which was passed in May. The legislation is especially welcomed to convenience retailers because South Carolina struck down state measures over the past few years to ban video poker machines. Now retailers are optimistic that lottery sales could make up for lost profits.

    All retailers will have to go through a background check before they are allowed to sell lottery tickets. "They are going to make sure the people who are running the distribution of this are legitimate folks," said the bill's sponsor Sen. David Thomas, (R-Greenville, S.C.).

    Since the lottery is new, lawmakers said that the state will borrow between $10 million and $20 million from the state Budget and Control Board for prize money until it gets a cash flow of its own.

    Rules of the lottery games include:
    * All players must be 18 years old or older to buy a ticket.
    * Retailers and their families are not eligible to win any lottery prizes.
    * Online lottery prize money must be claimed within six months.
    * Instant-win ticket winnings must be claimed within 90 days.

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