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Mass. lottery store is success story

Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: Mass. lottery store is success story

From the outside, it's just another Mobil station on Route 28: a brick building squatting on asphalt with a quartet of gasoline islands out front.

Inside is another story. Where shelves of chips and candy bars might have been, customers lean against narrow granite counters, holding scratch tickets by the handful, or lounge at one of the high-topped round tables, filling out blank Keno slips. There is no music, just the unceasing patter of five Lottery machines printing Mass Cash and MegaBucks tickets. Six monitors flash the latest Keno numbers, which smokers can also catch on a monitor protected by plexiglass while they lounge at picnic tables on a blacktopped patio out back.

Ted's Stateline Mobil is the King Kong of Massachusetts Lottery agents. The store sold $12.6 million worth of lottery tickets in 2007, millions more than any of the other 7,500 or so bars, restaurants, and convenience stores that sell lottery tickets in the state. Owner Ted Amico earned a staggering $625,000 on the standard 5 percent commission lottery agents receive for all lottery ticket sales, not including a 1 percent commission on all his customers' winnings. The average store owner made about $37,000.

Ted's rules the lottery world partly because it has famously sold an uncanny num ber of jackpot-winning tickets over the years, including a $17 million prize in 1988 that was then the largest in state history. There is also another reason: The New Hampshire border runs through the parking lot. Just as Massachusetts residents head to New Hampshire for tax-free beer and cigarettes, Granite Staters drive south of the border for lottery tickets - especially scratch tickets.

"I won't waste my money in New Hampshire," said Christine Tangusso, a 37-year-old computer consultant from Salem who stopped by Ted's earlier last week.

Compared with scratch tickets in other neighboring states, the top prizes offered on Massachusetts scratch ticket are bigger, and the odds of winning are often better. That's because the pool of money at stake is bigger in Massachusetts, and the Bay State sends more of its lottery income back to players in prizes, a strategy that lures core players back for more every day.

All of this has meant big profits for stores on the borders - the top five lottery agents in Massachusetts are on the New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Connecticut borders. At M&N Border Store, just across Route 28 from Ted's, on the New Hampshire side, owner Bob Patel said he sold a mere $100,000 worth of New Hampshire lottery tickets last year.

"Why would you buy a scratch ticket there if you know anything about scratch tickets?" said Tony Amico, who now runs Ted's for his older brother, who retired a decade ago and spends his winters playing golf in Florida. "Why would you buy a ticket there if you want to win a $1 million prize?"

Norm Cooper, a kindly, red-faced 62-year-old candy maker from Salem, N.H., stops by Ted's "almost every other day" on his way home from work and drops $110 on scratch tickets. He won $5,000 two months ago, and scratched his way to $1,000 earlier this month.

Cooper points out that the top prize on a $20 scratch ticket in Massachusetts is $10 million, compared with a piddling $250,000 in New Hampshire. He knows he's more likely to win the top prize in New Hampshire - there are fewer players. But he'd rather have a chance at the $10 million. And he comes to Ted's religiously because it's "a lucky station."

This does not necessarily improve Cooper's 1-in-6.55 million odds of winning $10 million on the Billion Dollar Blockbuster. But logic is not the name of the game. Cooper said he rarely buys milk or bread at Ted's.

"I know I'm paying for the convenience," he said. "I'd rather save the dollar."

Ted's was an unremarkable auto service station in the late 1970s when Ted Amico, who had worked as a sales representative for Mobil, decided to buy it. He didn't have the cash. Hardly born to money, he had grown up in a Lynn three-decker, the son of a shoe factory worker who tended bar at night - so he borrowed it. His younger brother doubted the wisdom of this.

"My brother knows nothing about cars," he said with a laugh. "He couldn't disconnect a battery if you paid him."

As it turned out, that didn't really matter.

The station acquired a Massachusetts Lottery machine. A few years later, in 1988, the station sold a $17 million ticket to a Methuen grandmother, a prize so inconceivably mastodonic at the time it attracted huge media attention. Crowds of customers began arriving, convinced lightning could strike twice.

It did. In 1996, Ted's sold a $35 million jackpot ticket. The next year, there was a $42 million payout, another record. Two $4 million winners bought their tickets at Ted's in 2001 to 2002, not to mention a gallery of lesser prizewinners who took home enough to buy a nice Mercedes or three. Just the week before last, somebody won $1 million on a $20 scratch ticket from Ted's, Amico said proudly.

"They seem to have the luck of the Irish here, that's for sure," said Steve Zis, a 47-year-old self-employed auto salesman from Pelham, N.H., who stopped in for $100 in scratch tickets Thursday.

Some of the winners never return. Others come back to tip the counter help or else to have their picture taken for the wall. A guy who got $175,000, Amico said with a grin, "still comes in the store, bragging about how he won."

Big jackpot drawings have made for some crazy times at Ted's. On at least one occasion, police details could not prevent a traffic jam on Route 28. Manager Phil Bosch recalls another evening when his lottery machines refused to print more tickets. Frantic, he called the Lottery headquarters, where someone eventually remembered that the machines had been set to max out at 10,000 tickets. It had never happened before, Bosch said.

But Amico and Bosch try to keep lines from forming, and to keep their customers comfortable. Fifteen to 20 employees run as many as five registers, and a pair of scratch ticket vending machines stand sentry near each door. A cooler was moved to make more space for Keno players. Amico has been searching on the Internet for an awning to protect the smokers from the rain.

"That's in the works," he said.

As for Amico, he said he does not play the lottery much. When he was a bartender, he said, he didn't drink, either.

"Once in a while, when the jackpot's really big, I buy a ticket like everybody else," he said. "That's it."

Top-selling lottery agents in Massachusetts for 2007

Boston Globe

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13 comments. Last comment 6 years ago by DC81.
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Avatar
Atlanta, GA
United States
Member #1265
March 13, 2003
3326 Posts
Offline
Posted: April 23, 2008, 4:37 pm - IP Logged

Sounds like a Cool place to buy tickets!   

Found this interesting and believe lots of lotteries could learn from it .... "That's because the pool of money at stake is bigger in Massachusetts, and the Bay State sends more of its lottery income back to players in prizes, a strategy that lures core players back for more every day."

Good luck to everyone!

    time*treat's avatar - radar

    United States
    Member #13130
    March 30, 2005
    2171 Posts
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    Posted: April 23, 2008, 6:41 pm - IP Logged

    I found it interesting people were allowed to smoke. Nice touch.

    Where I'm at, more and more entire towns are banning smoking in public places.

    In neo-conned Amerika, bank robs you.
    Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a govnoment agency.

      Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
      Zeta Reticuli Star System
      United States
      Member #30470
      January 17, 2006
      9058 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: April 23, 2008, 7:10 pm - IP Logged

      Sounds like a great place!

      Personally I'd pass on the smoking- a smoking section in an indoor public place is like a peeing section in a public pool - but the rest sounds great!

      I'd love to run a place like that. I'd have different guests come in, one day a numerologist, one an asrologer, etc....maybe even "Madame Zelda" herself!

      Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

      Lep

      There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.


        United States
        Member #59167
        March 8, 2008
        174 Posts
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        Posted: April 23, 2008, 7:32 pm - IP Logged

        Norm Cooper, a kindly, red-faced 62-year-old candy maker from Salem, N.H., stops by Ted's "almost every other day" on his way home from work and drops $110 on scratch tickets. He won $5,000 two months ago, and scratched his way to $1,000 earlier this month.

        WOW, $55.00 a day ($110.00 every two days) on scratch-offs; from a candy maker?  No wonder the price of chocolate has increased so much lately; some one has to pay for his habit. $55.00 a day, at 365 days in a year, comes to over $20K, a year, in card buying. If you have the money, then spend it any way that makes you happy.  Give me a hundred million, and I would do exactly that!

          JackpotWanna's avatar - squiz

          United States
          Member #4121
          March 23, 2004
          781 Posts
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          Posted: April 23, 2008, 7:44 pm - IP Logged

          Maybe its time for me to change careers.  Open a candy store with lottery. 

            Avatar

            United States
            Member #1826
            July 11, 2003
            2645 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: April 23, 2008, 7:51 pm - IP Logged

            Sounds like a Cool place to buy tickets!   

            Found this interesting and believe lots of lotteries could learn from it .... "That's because the pool of money at stake is bigger in Massachusetts, and the Bay State sends more of its lottery income back to players in prizes, a strategy that lures core players back for more every day."

            You're absolutely right. This is something that many lottery directors know and try to practice, but they usually have to answer to the state legislature, people who nothing about how the lottery works, and elected officials often refuse to give lotteries the jurisdiction to raise payout percentages, thinking it will hurt the beneficaries of lottery income. Of course the opposite happens, but nothing changes anyway.

            Bottom line, the lotteries of America can learn a lot from Massachusetts.

            (insert signature here)


              United States
              Member #59167
              March 8, 2008
              174 Posts
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              Posted: April 23, 2008, 8:30 pm - IP Logged

              You're absolutely right. This is something that many lottery directors know and try to practice, but they usually have to answer to the state legislature, people who nothing about how the lottery works, and elected officials often refuse to give lotteries the jurisdiction to raise payout percentages, thinking it will hurt the beneficaries of lottery income. Of course the opposite happens, but nothing changes anyway.

              Bottom line, the lotteries of America can learn a lot from Massachusetts.

              In Oklahoma, this exact arguement is being fought.  The legislatures are so afraid of impacting their take of the lottery (thus having to make up the deficit from some where else) they refuse to allow the lottery officials the ability to increase the prizes, games, or options.  Besides, if the lottery actually started to make money for Oklahoma, then those whinners who are against gambling would be proven wrong.  No legislature will ever allow another legislature to look stupid.  Would you like it publiced that your friends are idiots?

                Avatar
                Atlanta, GA
                United States
                Member #1265
                March 13, 2003
                3326 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: April 23, 2008, 10:38 pm - IP Logged

                In Oklahoma, this exact arguement is being fought.  The legislatures are so afraid of impacting their take of the lottery (thus having to make up the deficit from some where else) they refuse to allow the lottery officials the ability to increase the prizes, games, or options.  Besides, if the lottery actually started to make money for Oklahoma, then those whinners who are against gambling would be proven wrong.  No legislature will ever allow another legislature to look stupid.  Would you like it publiced that your friends are idiots?

                "Would you like it publiced that your friends are idiots?"       ROFL   ROFL  ROFL

                 

                Think the public knows already!!!!!

                Good luck to everyone!

                  Avatar
                  NY
                  United States
                  Member #23835
                  October 16, 2005
                  2829 Posts
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                  Posted: April 24, 2008, 2:09 am - IP Logged

                  I found it interesting people were allowed to smoke. Nice touch.

                  Where I'm at, more and more entire towns are banning smoking in public places.

                  They're allowed to smoke *outside*, which is allowed close to everywhere. There are a few places where it's illegal to smoke under a roof or awning outside a building, so there's a chance that puting up an awning for the smokers wouldn't be as helpful as he'd like.

                    JackpotWanna's avatar - squiz

                    United States
                    Member #4121
                    March 23, 2004
                    781 Posts
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                    Posted: April 25, 2008, 11:27 am - IP Logged

                    Norm Cooper, a kindly, red-faced 62-year-old candy maker from Salem, N.H., stops by Ted's "almost every other day" on his way home from work and drops $110 on scratch tickets. He won $5,000 two months ago, and scratched his way to $1,000 earlier this month.

                    WOW, $55.00 a day ($110.00 every two days) on scratch-offs; from a candy maker?  No wonder the price of chocolate has increased so much lately; some one has to pay for his habit. $55.00 a day, at 365 days in a year, comes to over $20K, a year, in card buying. If you have the money, then spend it any way that makes you happy.  Give me a hundred million, and I would do exactly that!

                    That in it self is a jackpot. 20 k a year times 10 = $200,000 in ten years.  Wow! My wife would have a fit and most likely do bodily harm to me.  Each his own.  Good Luck. 

                      DC81's avatar - batman39
                      MI
                      United States
                      Member #54830
                      August 31, 2007
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                      Posted: April 25, 2008, 12:54 pm - IP Logged

                      Fifty-Five dollars a day? That's nothing, meet Jose Salmon:

                       

                      http://youtube.com/watch?v=pBeAEa7qAbs

                       

                      Hopefully he had enough sense to follow through with what he said.

                      You can't predict random.

                        BabyJC's avatar - Lottery-031.jpg

                        United States
                        Member #3271
                        January 7, 2004
                        148 Posts
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                        Posted: April 26, 2008, 7:45 pm - IP Logged

                        I am new to NH and do not understand why the grand prize for their $20 scratch tickets are only $250k, while MA is $10 million!  Does anyone know the reasoning behind it?  The grand prizes for all their tickets are few and low - I think that they should be embarassed, and I don't understand how anyone could be motivated to spend their money on NH lotto tickets.

                        ΩΩΩSmiley

                          DC81's avatar - batman39
                          MI
                          United States
                          Member #54830
                          August 31, 2007
                          977 Posts
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                          Posted: April 26, 2008, 7:57 pm - IP Logged

                          *Shrugs* Maybe having around a fifth of the population has something to do with it which in turn probably means they have an even smaller fraction of players compared to MA?

                           

                          Anyway, if I lived near there I'd check the place out and probably end up leaving it cursed. Eek

                          You can't predict random.