First lottery in Wyoming

Apr 28, 2014 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Likely enticed by the 6 percent commission, many local business owners are eager to learn how they could sell lottery tickets when the Wyoming Lottery launches in August. The number of vendors, however, will be limited to 500 retailers across the state.

The Wyoming Lottery Corp., which will operate publicly as WyoLotto, plans to evaluate businesses based on location, surrounding demographics, their sales data, and the type of firm.

Turning the paperwork in first also matters.

"Speed is going to be important," WyoLotto chief operations officer Louise Plata told 35 business owners gathered Thursday at the Riverton Holiday Inn. The audience represented businesses from across Fremont County and from as far away as Rawlins.

Wyoming has about 1,800 retailers, she said. The lottery company has not decided how many licenses to allocate to cities, towns or counties, but it will establish quotas. It will evaluate retailers based on the criteria, but once a quota is met, applications further down the list will be denied.

"Does that seem fair?" Plata asked.

Many business owners nodded their heads.

The lottery company did not expect to expand the number of machines beyond 500 in the future.

"Based on population, if we go over that number we will probably experience cannibalization ," Plata said.

Officials are still drafting application and contract forms, but they expect to have documents finalized and available online and in paper by mid-May. There will be a $100 fee to become a lottery ticket vendor.

Along with the machines that print tickets, track sales and validate winners, vendors will also receive several LED signs that advertise the lottery and current jackpot amounts to draw in customers, Plata said.

"If they see $400 million, they're going to get out of their cars," Plata said.

Once they start selling tickets, vendors can keep 6 percent of the gross income from lottery tickets and remit the remainder to the state company, per state law. Vendors will be responsible for paying out winning tickets worth up to $599 but will be reimbursed. People who win $600 or more would be taxed and have to bring or send the ticket into the lottery company in Cheyenne.

Many in the audience at the Holiday Inn showed they were interested in becoming a lottery vendor, and asked many questions to flesh out the details of applying to do so.

The company expects to allocate 70 percent of ticket machines to convenience stores because they tend to sell the most tickets, Plata said.

Other types of retailers, such as bars or bowling alleys, usually sell fewer and would divide up the remaining 30 percent.

The Wyoming Lottery in 2012 approved a draw-games lottery in Wyoming. Over the last year, Gov. Matt Mead appointed a nine-member lottery board, including Gerry Margburger of Riverton.

The board then hired a CEO for the state-controlled lottery corporation, Jon Clontz, and hired Intralot Inc. to provide and support the lottery machines.

Clontz was on hand Thursday as well and briefed audience members on details of the lottery.

In its rollout this summer, the state lottery will offer tickets for the multi-state Powerball and Megamillions lotteries, but could create similar, Wyoming-only draw games.

Intralot is to provide the lottery-ticket machines, training on how to operate them, technical assistance and sales support.

To do that, the company plans to hire two crews of about four people each in Wyoming, which could create a few jobs.

"I do my best to hire locally because they know the state," Intralot general manager Tim Rutten said.

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