After cashing in a winning $50 state lottery scratch-off game Wednesday, Shantel Payne of Albany had a grin on her face.
"Last month I won $500, and at the same time last year I was cashing in a $2,500 ticket. I play every day. I'm not mad when I lose. You got to keep playing to win it," she said jokingly.
Payne and other regular players, who helped the state collect an estimated $1.9 billion in lottery revenues this year, ducked in out of the bitter cold into stores, bars and restaurants near the Capitol on Wednesday to purchase instant lottery games and play some numbers in the popular game Quick Draw.
In the near future, their game selections may change and their time to play may expand.
In his budget released Tuesday, Gov. George E. Pataki called for the creation of 40 new instant-lottery games, or "scratch-offs," to replace games that are lagging, and letting Quick Draw be played around the clock, instead of 13 hours a day. Pataki has projected profits will grow to more than $2 billion next year with the help of the new games and expanded hours.
"Hey, just put a lot of winners in them," Payne said, when asked what she thought about having different games to play.
But not all customers at stores and bars were as happy as Payne about the proposed expansions.
"It's a terrible idea. It's going to cause more problem gambling because people will now want to buy new tickets on top of ones they already buy," said Don Cavanaugh of Albany, as he bought a scratch-off ticket in a variety store down the street from the Capitol. "People will just lose more money."
A state Budget Division spokesman refused to comment on criticism of the expansion. But gambling foes said they're concerned about the potential negative effects of expanded gambling opportunities.
"They are now calling scratch-offs the crack cocaine of gambling. Of course he's calling for more of it --'let's get as many people addicted as we possibly can,' right?" said Charlotte Wellins of the Coalition Against Gambling in New York. "It's unbelievable to me that we have a governor that wants to balance the budget on the back of addicts."
The New York Council on Problem Gambling reports that 750,000 New Yorkers suffer from problem gambling, and they expect that number to rise.
Sen. Frank Padavan, R-Queens, pointed out that Pataki, while calling for an expansion in gambling and lottery, didn't include any increases in funding for gambling addiction treatment.
"The Legislature wisely rejected similar proposals last year, and needs to do so again," he said.
The proposed expansion of the Quick Draw games is more important than adding new scratch-off games to Paul Schwartz, general manager of Broadway Joe's, a restaurant and bar near the Capitol.
Besides expanding hours, Pataki also proposed doing away with restrictions that prevent bars from offering the games and mandate that the establishments in which they are held be at least 2,500 square feet. He wants to cut that to 1,200 square feet.
Schwartz said the game, on which he gets a 6 percent commission, has produced more work for his bartenders. But he said it's hard to foresee the effects of keeping Quick Draw operating around the clock. (The game would have to be shut down for one hour a day, which is also the current rule.)
"I don't know how much the change would affect my business, but think about this: at 2 a.m. you're going to have people who have been drinking all night playing lotto," Schwartz said with a grin.
While new Quick Draw games used to be shown every five minutes, now it's four, Schwartz said. He added that he had an instant lottery machine taken out when it wasn't reaching quotas.
"New York state," he said, "is starting to learn that gambling is helping them make money."