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South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges pledged an ongoing commitment to the state's new lottery at the annual meeting of the South Carolina Association of Convenience Stores (SCACS).
With state senators Billy Odell, Tom Moore, Andre Bauer and Jim Ritchie also addressing the group, the state's determination to make the lottery succeed seems genuine, said Phil White, CEO of Anderson, S.C.-based Little General Food Stores and president of SCACS.
"The convenience stores of this state will be the principle conduit for lottery ticket sales. We are the sales team, and Gov. Hodges is very aware of this. We believe that he is sincere in his desire for us to sell tickets profitably," White said.
More than half of all lottery sales nationwide are made in convenience stores. Without a lottery of its own, many of South Carolina's more than 2,900 convenience store operators have been concerned during the past decade that they are losing sales to stores in neighboring Georgia -- where a successful state lottery has operated for about eight years. South Carolina successfully passed enabling legislation last November to establish its own state lottery.
Seeking input regarding the pending lottery, the state association also gathered a panel of experts including Jim Tudor, executive director of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores (GACS); Lara Fowler of the Virginia Lottery Corp.; Bill Laufer of Anheuser-Busch; and Bob Reale, vice president of Sanford, N.C.-based The Pantry Inc.