Posted: 7:00 a.m. Thursday, June 6, 2013

The luckiest places to play the lottery in Butler County


The luckiest places to play the lottery in Butler County photo
Verity Discount Smokes and Carryout is the luckiest place to play the lottery, with the most winning tickets sold in the Middletown area. Lee Carpenter, with owner Vik Rutherford, plays the lottery almost everyday there, with her favorite games being Rolling Cash 5 and Keno and scratch offs, she said.
The luckiest places to play the lottery in Butler County photo
Bob Patel (left) sells a Lottery ticket to a customer at the Kwik & Kold off Ohio 4 in Liberty Twp. The store is one of the top Lottery agents in Butler County. In 2011, the store sold the most winning tickets in Butler County.

By Rick McCrabb

Staff Writer

Ohio Lottery sales are expected to decline this year with the recent opening of casinos and racinos, but Butler and Warren county outlets show no decline in demand.

Nearly 250 retailers in Butler County had more than $144 million in sales the past three years and this year’s sales remain flat, a Middletown Journal/Hamilton JournalNews examination found.

“We projected a 5 percent decline in sales across the board in fiscal year 2013 due to the opening of casinos in the state,” said Kilbane Seckers of the Ohio Lottery Commission. “Instant sales, which make up more than half of our sales, are down 4.5 percent to date. Overall, lottery sales are essentially flat, down 1.6 percent.”

The newspaper’s examination of Ohio Lottery data found that the 350 combined retailers in Butler and Warren counties paid out more than $109 million in winnings since 2011.

Ameristop Food Mart, 1039 Eaton Ave., in Hamilton had the most lottery sales in the area since 2011 at $3.7 million. But a location selling the most doesn’t always equal winning the biggest prizes for customers in Butler and Warren counties, according to the data.

While the Ameristop ranked first in Ohio Lottery sales the past three years, it came in second to Dixie Food Mart, 4825 Dixie Highway in Fairfield, in total winnings.

The odds of buying a winning ticket increase if a lottery player buys them at a retailer with high-volume sales, but a little luck also helps.

Dixie Delicatessen in Fairfield, sold nearly $3.4 million worth of lottery tickets since 2011, and the store distributed $1.87 million in winnings, according to the Ohio Lottery Commission.

Meanwhile, Meijer, 1560 Main St., Hamilton, paid out more than $1 million more than it sold in lottery sales since 2011, the commission said. The store had sales of $741,554, and paid out more than $1,764,000.

Chris Chen, manager of Ameristop in Hamilton, said the store emphasizes the sale of lottery tickets and recently renovated the interior of the store with a larger counter for players and clerks. He said the sale of Keno tickets also has helped increased sales in the store.

He said the sale of scratch-off tickets has dropped off, replaced by the larger prized Powerball and Mega Million tickets.

Dixie Food Mart had the most winners since 2011 in Butler County, distributing $2,275,000 with sales of $3.6 million.

David Patel, a cashier at Dixie Food Mart, said the employees stress lottery sales through its vending machines and asking customers who are checking out if they want to purchase tickets. He said a display in the store announces recent winners and he believes that fuels the lottery fever.

And why are they No. 1 in winnings?

“Maybe better luck,” he said.

In Middletown, Broadway News and Snack Bar, 100 S. Main St., remained one of the top sellers in the region. The business was fifth in sales and seventh in total winnings since 2011.

Stephanie Jones, a clerk at the downtown business, said Broadway News prides itself on customer service and when it comes to the lottery, the employees “are pretty polished.” Instead of the customer having to fill out their numbers on Lottery cards, they’re encouraged to tell the clerks their numbers.

“That’s what they want and that was the way we were taught,” Jones said.

In 2011, Verity Discount Smokes and Carryout, on North Verity Parkway, was the luckiest place to buy a lottery ticket in Middletown, according to data from 2011. The store had claims of $69,600, the lottery commission said.

The store’s manager, Rita Rutherford, said the store sells more winners because she stresses to the customers to believe they’re going to win.

“If you play with a positive attitude,” she said, “it will bring luck. If you think you are not going to win, you shouldn’t play.”

In Warren County, Meijer, 3651 Towne Blvd., was fourth in overall sales from 2011 to 2013, but No. 1 in total winnings. The store sold $1.468,311 in lottery tickets and distributed $939,563 in winners.

The Meijer in Loveland was second in winnings, followed by Crown East Marathon in Franklin, Market Place Express in Springboro and Shriner Food and Mini Mart in Lebanon.

Gary Gill, owner of the Crown East Marathon on South Dixie Highway in Franklin, said, “We’ve had people win $10,000 and $2,500. We probably have a $1,000 winner monthly and $500 winners two or three times a month.”

Rooster’s on Ohio 741 in Springboro has ruled the roost in the region for Keno, the only lottery game it offers. It awarded more than $85,000 in prizes from January through March on sales of more than $83,000.

Over an entire year, numbers like the early 2013 tabulations for Rooster’s tend to even out, with sales gradually exceeding prizes by a comfortable margin. Rooster’s prizes topped $324,000 in 2012 on sale of more than $511,000, for example. Those numbers were $263,000 and $448,000, respectively, in 2011.

Only three Ohio merchants with more than $1 million in lottery sales for 2012 awarded more prize money than they took in. All three were in Cuyahoga County.

“Sales and prizes typically follow each other. Outlets with the most sales will generally also have the most winners over time,” said Marie Kilbane Seckers, director of marketing and communications for the Ohio Lottery.

Ohio has had only two Powerball jackpot winners – both in 2010, in the Columbus and Toledo regions. But the state has captured 17 $1 million to $2 million prizes in that game since 2012.

The Ohio Lottery said it awards almost 10 million prizes per month. Most are $100 or less.


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