ROCKY HILL, Conn. — More than 100 lottery agents from across the state came to Connecticut Lottery headquarters in Rocky Hill Thursday to protest a cut in ticket commissions by the Connecticut Lottery Corp.
The agents, who represent businesses ranging from small convenience stores and gas stations to delis and grocery store chains, are frustrated by an act that state legislators passed in February that cut commissions from 5 percent to 4 percent as of April 1.
The lottery corporation's board of directors still needs to vote on whether to adopt the lower fees. More than 40 people who spoke at the meeting voiced opposition to the legislature's plan.
Workers came dressed in monogrammed polo shirts from gas stations and wearing badges that read "Save Lottery Sales and Jobs!"
"It's just not fair," said Bhavesh Patel, who works at the Kwik Mart in Wolcott. "Business is already down for us and this isn't going to help."
Patel and others said the change was like a new tax, adding that the move would be the same as a 20 percent cut in revenues, which could lead to layoffs of part-time employees at some stores.
Most of the people who spoke at the meeting were greeted with cheers and applause from others after they demanded the corporation vote against the decrease and ask the legislature to consider an increase.
Others threatened to stop selling tickets altogether if the decrease is imposed.
"If we all shut down our terminals for a day, you know what the price to you would be," said Laila Gilani, who works for a Getty Foods store. "Tell me one thing where the price has gone down for us. There is nothing."
Board Chairman John Paul told the agents that he expects the nine-member panel to make a final decision later this month or in June.
An overflow of lottery vendors listen to an unidentified man address John Paul, Chairman of the Board of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation and the rest of the Board, which oversees the CT Lottery, during a public hearing at lottery headquarters in Rocky Hill Thursday afternoon. The Boardroom holds 130 people including board members. An additional 30 people filled the hallway outside the doors leading into the room.Vendors were upset by a proposal that would see lottery commissions cut from 5 percent to 4 percent.
Tony Scheessele, owner of the South Britain Country Store, walks back to his seat after addressing the board that oversees the Connecticut Lottery.
Roger Parmar, manager of the Best Food Mart on Waterbury-Meriden Turnpike in Cheshire, checks lottery scratch ticket serial numbers at the end of a shift. Parmar said the store sells about $800 worth of 42 scratch ticket games from the CT Lottery each day. He said they also sell about $300 worth of traditional lottery games each day.