SIKESTON -- State and local retailers are experiencing a "lotto" sales lately.
According to the Missouri Lottery sales reached a record high and an 11.5 percent jump -- for fiscal year 2004, which ended June 30. Sales totaled $791.5 million compared to last year's $708 million.
"It's entertainment for them (players), and it's just like some people who like to go bowling or golfing -- some like to play the lottery," said Susan Goedde, media manager for Missouri Lottery.
To compare with the record, whenever the Missouri Lottery began in 1986, sales totaled $206.9 million at the end of the first year.
"Lottery sales are way up and probably the biggest reason is because they've come out with the $10-Scratchers," noted Steve Woods, owner of Quick Check in Sikeston.
Quick Check offers Scratchers, Powerball, Lotto, Pick 3, Pick 4 and Show Me 5. Thousands of dollars are awarded to customers each month, Woods said. Last October, a customer even won $50,000 playing Missouri Lottery.
New Madrid's P&G Quick Sack owner George Gard said he has also noticed an increase in lottery sales over the past year.
"We've had a tremendous increase in lottery ticket sales because of other stores closing down. Our scratch offs have probably doubled in sales," Gard said.
Gard estimated a 22 percent increase overall in sales of Scratchers, Powerball, Lotto, Show Me 5, Pick 3 and Pick 4.
But P&G sells more of the Pick 3 than anything, Gard said, adding there are often repeat lottery ticket buyers each day or week.
"A lot of people use their birthdays to pick their numbers," Gard explained about Pick 3 players. "One girl spends about $35 dollars on Pick 3 and we have someone who comes in on Wednesdays and Fridays and spends $50 in tickets."
Retailers who sell Missouri Lottery products earned more than $48.5 million in commissions, incentives and bonuses for selling Missouri Lottery tickets during fiscal year 2004.
Missouri Lottery reports the sales increase can be attributed to several high Powerball jackpots, a larger variety of Scratchers games and sales increases in the Club Keno game.
"I think a lot of it has to do with the chances people want to take," Gard noted about the increase. "A lot of people who play like to, as I say, bet on the come."
More than $484 million in prizes were awarded to Missouri Lottery players during FY04.
And when the Missouri Lottery has big winners, Goedde said it's an exciting time. The Lottery has seen winners as young as 23 and as old as 85.
"It really does happen to a lot of people," Goedde assured. "It changes their lives. Somebody who does win usually doesn't change who they are, but their lifestyle changes."
She continued: "Maybe they had to work before and now they don't work. Or maybe now they can send their extended family members to college."
Goedde noted Missouri Lottery sales have been great, and Missouri Lottery hopes to continue to have the same kind of current success in the future.
In addition, the record sales translated to record proceeds to Missouri's public education programs with more than $230 million transferred to the Lottery Proceeds Fund to benefit various public education programs.
"We would like to think we're working in the right direction and are adding in products and keeping some excitement in the games," Goedde said.
On Monday, Missouri Lottery is beginning a mid-day drawing at 12:57 p.m. when daily games such as the Pick 3, Pick 4 and Show Me 5 will be played along with the evening drawing. Also on Monday, Pick 3 will begin having bonus numbers, which gives players a second chance at winning.
Woods, for one, thinks the mid-day drawing will only help lottery sales.
"It'll continue to grow," Woods predicted. ""A lot of people will buy in the morning and come in at noon to see if they've won, and if they didn't win, they'll probably buy another one.
"We could easily have a 50 percent increase in sales -- and maybe a 100 percent increase."