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Pay to play?

Even occasional players can win big

Managing editor

Who couldn’t use an extra $500 about now?

For Wayne Hudson of Benson, Ariz., who is visiting son Steve Hudson, superintendent of Marion County Park and Lake, it paid to play. He bought one scratch ticket July 7 at Ampride of Marion and won $500. Hudson stops by the convenience store every morning to visit with patrons and scratch a ticket.

“I only play this when I’m in Marion to visit my family,” he said.

Rocky Hett of Marion won $500 April 20 from the same kind of game.

Ampride convenience stores in Marion and Hillsboro have had their share of winners but Laura Legg, manager of both stores, said she doesn’t think there have been as many winners as in the past.

The store makes a 5 percent profit from lottery tickets and electronic games.

“If the Powerball is big, we sell more,” Legg said. “Otherwise, we sell more in scratch tickets.”

The Hillsboro store has more Keno players than other lottery gamblers, which is a live game played through a computer monitor.

All of the lottery games have bar codes, which are tracked electronically by Kansas Lottery.

The odds of winning is stated on the back of scratch tickets, with most being 1-4 or 1-6.

“But that includes all tickets in the state,” Legg said, not necessarily in that roll.

There are those who play on a daily basis, others who play once or twice a week, and those who purchase an entire roll of scratch tickets, hoping to improve their odds of hitting a big payoff.

Robert Schmidt and Ralph Kreutziger of Marion were two of those who shared a $20,000 jackpot a few years ago from a scratch ticket. More recently, Tom Stoppel of Hillsboro won $20,000 from a scratch ticket purchased at the Hillsboro Ampride.

The Marion store has had a $100,000 winner in the past but no one has become a millionaire from purchasing lottery tickets in Marion County.

Kansas Lottery began in November 1987, with the local convenience stores participating that same year.

If a lottery player wins $599 or less, he or she will receive the money from the business. Any winnings $600 or more must be claimed at the Great Bend regional lottery office or at the Kansas Lottery headquarters in Topeka.

Following the money

Kansas Lottery Act requires that a minimum of 45 percent of total sales be paid back to the players through the prize fund. In fiscal year 2009, the Kansas Lottery paid out 56 percent in prize money, totaling $1.1 billion.

More than $42 million was distributed to economic development initiatives, $15.6 million to the state’s general fund, nearly $5 million to a correctional institutions building fund, $2.5 million to juvenile detention facilities, and $80,000 to Problem Gambling Grant Fund.

Having lottery sales does increase sales, Legg said, but people also need to recognize when they have a problem.

“It’s like anything else,” she said. “Moderation is fine but too much of it can cause other problems.”

Anyone who has a gambling problem should contact a mental health professional or call Kansas Gamblers Anonymous hot line at (816) 346-9230.

Last modified July 15, 2010

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