Wyoming Lottery gives business owners another product to help boost bottom lines

Some business owners in Wyoming are hoping the new statewide lottery is a winner for their bottom lines.

"I'm hoping it brings out more foot traffic into my store," said Kurt Garland, owner of the Etna Trading Co. in the small community of Etna, near the Wyoming-Idaho border.

Etna Trading Co. is among some 390 business outlets in the state that have been approved to sell Powerball and Mega Millions tickets beginning Aug. 24. It's Wyoming's first foray into the lottery frenzy that has become a fixture in most other states.

Wyoming Lottery CEO Jon Clontz said Wednesday he expects to have more than 400 businesses statewide selling tickets.

The retail outlets where tickets will be sold include bars, grocery stores, convenience stores, truck stops, bowling alleys and gifts shops.

Retailers keep 6 percent of ticket sales and receive a 1 percent bonus for winning tickets they validate.

But Clontz said retailers hope ticket buyers will spend money on other purchases.

"Research shows that many people, if not most, will usually buy other products while they're in a person's store," Clontz said. "So if someone comes in to buy lottery tickets, more often than not they buy chips, or a soda, or gas or other products. So they'll pick up some revenue that way, too."

Mark Larson, executive director of the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association, said Wyoming retailers hope to capture the business of residents who had been traveling to other states to buy lottery tickets.

"It'll keep Wyoming's money in Wyoming," Larson said.

Many members of Larson's association are convenience stores that sell fuel, and Larson noted convenience stores are consistently the top sellers of lottery tickets nationwide.

"The more you can offer the public, for the things that they want, the more you're going to get them in your store," he said.

At Etna, a town of about 130 residents, the Etna Trading Co. sells grocery items, hunting and fishing licenses, and houses the town's post office.

Being able to offer lottery tickets "is a huge deal for a store our size," Garland said.

He will be able to attract more customers, especially those who have been driving up to an hour to buy lottery tickets in Idaho.

"It helps us make a living here. We employ about five or six employees, and it helps their families too, as well, because we can keep them employed," Garland said.