SPRINGFIELD, IL - As Illinois prepares to sell lottery tickets over the Internet by March or April, convenience store owners fear it will sharply impact their businesses, the State Journal-Register reports.
"One of my members thought he would lose 40 percent of his lottery sales," said William Fleischli, executive vice president of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association/Illinois Association of Convenience Stores. "I think he made close to $200,000 (on lottery commissions) from his 10 stores."
Fleischli said the new law would impact more than just ticket sales, though.
"It will cut down on foot traffic in our stores," he said. "When people come in to buy their lottery tickets, they will make other purchases. We think we are going to lose a significant amount of that foot traffic."
NACS is critical of the U.S. Department of Justice€™s approval of Internet lottery sales and how it would affect state revenues.
"You need to focus on the [taxes] that [the states] are not going to receive anymore," said Corey Fitze, NACS€™ director of governmental affairs. "Lottery drives traffic into convenience stores, grocery stores, every place that sells lottery tickets. Those taxes will no longer be collected."
Grady Chronister of Chronister Oil, which owns three Quik-n-EZ stores in Springfield, said he doesn€™t believe the change will significantly impact business.
"It€™s (lottery sales) an integral part of our industry, but not necessarily the main reason we are in business," he said. "I don€™t think people drive out of their way to come to our stores to buy lottery tickets. We have lottery tickets available for people who come to our stores for other reasons."
Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones said he hopes Internet sales will bring in new players to the lottery.
"A high percentage of all adults walk through a retailer every week, but the great majority of them don€™t play," he said. "This extension of our retail channels, I think, can be positive rather than a negative. There€™s no research that it will affect retailers negatively."
Only Lotto and Mega Millions games will be sold online €" initially. Powerball could also be included if the Illinois General Assembly approves it.