Shopping competes with
lottery ticket sales
By Elizabeth Lee Brown
News Journal staff writer
The ringing of cash registers Friday competed against the whirring of Lotto machines.
With a $20 million jackpot up for grabs, several Pensacola
convenience store owners reported steady lines on the start of the holiday buying season and expected a rush of ticket buyers today hoping to cash ill on tonight's drawing.
However, lottery ticket, sales sagged Friday afternoon at the Conoco gas station in Ensley where a Pensacola woman won a share of a $15 million jackpot last month.
"Right now, they're still shopping," said Joanne Mai, store owner. "It's one of the biggest shopping days of the year."
Mai said when the jackpot rolls over at least three times, the buying frenzy begins. "You'll see them buy an additional $5 more than what they normally buy," she said.
The estimated $20 million prize rolled over four times since Nov. 13 and it is the largest jackpot since state lottery
officials last month changed the lottery drawing from weekly to twice-weekly: Wednesday and
Store owners say a majority of customers don't like the new format because initial jackpots start out in the $3 million to $4 million range. When the drawing was on Saturdays only, the weekly jackpot started out at about $7 million.
The odds of winning dropped [from 1 in 14 million to 1 in 23 million with the change. The new Lotto is also tougher because players choose six numbers out of 53, instead of the old 49-number format.
But it is potentially higher paying because the jackpot can roll over twice a week instead of once a week if no one wins.
Alma Hayes, a loyal Lotto player, said she likes the twice-a-week lottery and has been spending more money on tickets. So far she's bought $24 worth of tickets for tonight's drawing.
"I think there's more chance to win, rather than waiting for another Saturday," she said.
At O'Yes Snacks on Perdido Key, a line of ticket buyers was almost out the front door.
Lotto ticket sales were brisk Friday at Lot O'Snacks on West Nine Mile Road, but overall sales have thinned since the lottery turned twice-weekly said owner Jim Kahalley.