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Alabama town bracing for Tennessee Lottery

Tennessee LotteryTennessee Lottery: Alabama town bracing for Tennessee Lottery

You can stand in lottery-free Alabama and see the pink-and-yellow sign just a few hundred feet away in Tennessee.

"LOTTERY HERE - STARTS JAN. 20," screams the placard outside HP Max Fuel Express, which is located just across a set of railroad tracks in adjoining Ardmore, Tenn.

Ardmore is split by the state line, and people on the north side are looking forward to an influx of Alabama dollars when the Tennessee Lottery begins Tuesday. But businesses in Alabama hope to get along just fine once the sales begin, thanks mainly to gambling opponents.

Wayne Daly owns a Pure gas station on the Alabama side of the line, and he doesn't expect to lose any local business to the lottery.

Some people will purposely avoid stores that sell lottery tickets, Daly said. "A lot of people think it will kill the Alabama side, but I don't," said Daly.

Daly is hedging his bets, though. He expanded another store he owns on the Tennessee side of the line and changed the name to True Discount Lotto Land to get ready for lottery customers.

"We anticipate people coming from 100 miles south - Birmingham - to buy tickets," said Daly.

While Alabama overwhelmingly rejected a state lottery proposal in 2002, residents are known for crossing borders to gamble in other states.

Alabama license plates are common in the parking lots of Mississippi casinos, and stores along the state's borders with Georgia and Florida, which already have lotteries, generally report strong sales.

The Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative group that opposes gambling, estimated two years ago that Alabama residents spent about $150 million annually on lottery tickets in Georgia and Florida.

City officials in Ardmore, Ala., refused comment on any possible effects of the lottery on their town. But the manager of one of the few stores in town doesn't fear the decline in business that some expect.

Tracy Taylor of the Shell Quik Mart in Ardmore, Ala., said some teetotalers from Tennessee already come to her store because it's in one of Alabama's dry counties and doesn't sell alcohol. She said after the lottery begins, the same thing might happen with people opposed to gambling.

"The religious people don't believe in gambling, which the lottery is," said Taylor.

But Taylor also is realistic about what may happen the first time the Tennessee Lottery has a multimillion-dollar jackpot up for grabs. Taylor has seen on the news the kinds of lines that creates.

"It'll be dead here," she said. "I'll be down there standing in line, too."

AP

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