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BARRE, Vt. -- Business owners and state officials here say the multistate Powerball lottery game, introduced to Vermont in July, has been a boon to business and state coffers.
Gilles Moreau of Barre, owner of M&M Beverage stores in Montpelier, Barre, Randolph and Brattleboro, said ticket sales are up sharply over last year, when Vermont's biggest game was the Tri-State Megabucks, run jointly with New Hampshire and Maine.
Moreau said he believes his Brattleboro store has seen the biggest impact, with lottery ticket sales more than tripling, from about 1,000 a week before July 1, to as many as 3,200 a week now.
"It has been a good thing," he said. "Out-of-staters pass through here all the time. The first thing they ask you is if you have a big game."
Moreau noted the special value of offering Powerball in his Brattleboro beverage and gasoline outlet because of its proximity to sales-tax-free New Hampshire, a state that also offers Powerball. "It's one more thing they can get here."
Meanwhile, state officials say lottery receipts have jumped $2.2 million over the first four months of fiscal 2002. Total lottery receipts were $6.4 million from July through October, compared to $4.2 million a year ago.
"Retailers, in general, are happy to have the game," confirmed Jim Harrison, president of the Vermont Grocer's Association, which represents many small convenience stores.
After years of political debate ? and opposition by former Gov. Howard Dean ? the Legislature voted last winter to allow the state to join 25 other states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands in offering Powerball.
Participants pay $1 per chance to match a string of six numbers drawn twice a week. The odds of winning Powerball are one in 120 million.
Lottery profits help pay for education. Last year, the lottery contributed $16 million to the state's Education Fund. This year, state officials predicted Powerball would push the lottery contribution to $19.2 million ? even with an expected loss in Megabucks sales.