Play and pay out

Lottery sales date drawing closer

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com
With less than two weeks before Tennessee sees its first lottery ticket sold, East Tennessee retailers are preparing to enter the numbers racket.
"I got an application as soon as I saw it in the paper," said Roy Hyder, owner of the Sunshine Market on North Lynn Avenue. Hyder's store is one of eight businesses in Elizabethton that had been licensed to sell lottery tickets on Jan. 20 by the Tennessee Lottery Education Corporation as of Thursday.
Lottery officials had initially set a target date of Feb. 10 to sell the first lottery game ticket in Tennessee but moved the date of "scratch-off" game sales to Jan. 20. Tickets sold for the $1 million lottery jackpot is expected to begin within 60 days after Jan. 20.
Other locations to scratch and try to win are Roger and Mary's Raceway, 704 Broad St.; the West Elk Citgo, 821 W. Elk Ave.; Sunoco, 525 Hwy. 91; Appco #32, 348 Broad and Elm streets; Roadrunner #116, 725 W. G St.; Roadrunner #141, 416 Hwy. 91; and Winn-Dixie, 151 Hudson St. Stores have been outfitted with satellite equipment and machines to process lottery tickets purchased at each store to be stored at Lottery Corporation headquarters in Nashville.
More than 3,000 convenience stores, gas stations and other outlets have applied to sell, according to lottery officials. Satellite equipment connecting retailers with the lottery headquarters in Nashville has been installed at Hyder's store and the Raceway Market on Broad Street.
The lottery's immediate goal is to raise $88 million by July 1 to fund scholarships for 65,000 students attending Tennessee colleges and universities next fall.
Retailers receive a commission of 6.5 percent on lottery sales made from their stores. An applicant to sell lottery tickets must pass criminal background checks as well as credit checks. An applicant also must be in good standing with the Tennessee Department of Revenue on existing tax records.
Hyder said he and other store employees had gone through a training seminar sponsored by the Lottery Corporation detailing how to operate lottery equipment. Consumers must be 18 years old to buy lottery tickets and retail employees must be at least 18 to sell the tickets, according to state law.
"We were real excited about getting it in," said Hyder, who has operated Sunshine Market for roughly five years. "Hopefully, we'll get a winner in here in the next few weeks."
Scratch-off games will offer their own specialized, gambler-friendly draws tailored to the state. Games include the Tennessee Millionaire, a $1 ticket that will offer instant cash prizes of up to $1,000 and include hundreds of thousands of tickets that can be mailed in as entries for the big drawing.
Those drawings will take place in sequence after 500,000 entry tickets have been received each time. The timing of the first drawing, and the intervals between the three, will be determined by how long it takes to get those half-million entry tickets. Each of the three drawings will offer prizes of $10,000 and $25,000 plus the grand prize of $1 million. The odds of winning something -- most often, a free ticket -- in the Tennessee Millionaire game are one in four.
Tennessee Treasures, which features $2 tickets bearing scenic photos from around the state, will offer a maximum prize of $25,000. A third game, called Lucky 7s, requires the player to find three 7s in a tic-tac-toe-winning arrangement and will pay out up to $7,000.
Legislation creating the lottery corporation was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bredesen on June 11. State lawmakers have tussled over the academic standards determining eligibility for students receiving scholarships funded by lottery dollars. Lottery scholarships are expected to be awarded beginning in spring 2004.
There are five scholarships or awards within the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program. They are the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship, General Assembly Merit Scholarship, Need-Based Supplemental Award, Tennessee HOPE Access Grant and the Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant.
Scholarship recipients must be graduates from high school in the Class of 2004, a Tennessee resident for one year, and enroll in a Tennessee public college/university that is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Scholarship recipients must score at least a 19 ACT (890 SAT) or have a 3.0 unweighted overall grade point average (GPA) and college-core GPA out of a possible 4.0 and all required college core courses. GED applicants must have a 525 GED score and at least a 19 ACT (890 SAT). Home schooled graduates must score at least a 23 ACT (1060 SAT).
Students who graduated from high school in June 2003 are eligible to receive Tennessee HOPE Scholarships provided they meet standards set forth for incoming college freshmen and have maintained at least a 2.75 GPA and completed at least 24 credit hours during their first year of college.