On Wednesday, business owners who will comprise Oklahoma's main lottery ticket sellers filed the required applications and got a gander at machinery that may be used to sell Oklahoma lottery tickets.
They had been waiting for this day since that November election night when Oklahoma voters enthusiastically endorsed a state lottery.
Gas station and grocery store owners also had some questions for Jim Scroggins, the state's lottery director, and Scott Meacham, the governor's point man for the lottery.
Chief among them:
What will it cost up front to install lottery games?
Will tribal casinos be allowed to sell tickets?
What percentage will retailers make?
Scroggins promised to keep them happy, because "we're not going to succeed unless we make you successful."
6 percent commission expected
Speaking at the Oklahoma Grocers Association at the Cox Convention Center, Scroggins said retailers can expect about 6 percent from each ticket sold.
He said he expects about 80 percent of the tickets to be sold in grocery and convenience stores.
Scroggins officially started his new job this week after being hired away from Missouri, where he had the same title.
Drawing on that experience, he predicted retailers in the Joplin area will lose $5 million to northeast Oklahoma in the lottery's first year.
He also predicted Oklahoma will have 3,500 lottery outlets -- one for every 1,000 residents.
The lottery is expected to offer scratch-off tickets in October and electronic tickets a few months later, with a multistate offering such as Powerball coming next year. It is expected to generate $150 million a year for education when fully implemented.
Oklahoma's lottery law requires 30 cents from each dollar to go to education. Scroggins predicts 50 percent will go to prizes, with 20 percent left over for retailers and operational costs.
For the first time, grocers and gasoline retailers merged their annual trade shows because of their mutual interest in selling lottery tickets.
That gave the three companies hoping to land a multimillion-dollar bid a chance to persuade retailers and state officials.
Display booths manned by GTECH, Intralot and Scientific Games kept a steady crowd throughout the daylong trade show.
Those three vendors also answered questions from commission members. The commission expects to award a contract to one of them within three months.
First, Scroggins and his commissioners must figure out how to streamline criminal background checks on ticket sellers, as required by law.
Scroggins said he discussed ideas for expediting the process with DeWade Langley, director of Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. He wouldn't elaborate on their conclusions.
"We've got to figure out what the law says and what's feasible," Scroggins said.
Applications for 621 retail outlets were turned in Wednesday.
Shirley and Denny Combs, who own a Conoco station east of Eufaula, are as interested in who the competition will be as when tickets will be available.
They are concerned tribal casinos, with a steady flow of proven gamblers, will undercut retailers.
"Right now, they have a monopoly. It just seems unfair," Shirley Combs said.
Meacham, the new state treasurer, said the lottery law doesn't permit casinos to be excluded from selling tickets.
In fact, New Mexico's lottery director recently urged Oklahoma's lottery commissioners to form an alliance with casinos, saying the partnership had worked well in that state.
Such ideas won't sit well with convenience store and gas station owners, many of whom voiced their ire at Meacham on Wednesday for a new tobacco tax structure that seems to favor tribal smokeshops.
Meacham told them he is seeking legislative changes to balance the competitive edge.