Six Dayton-area stores sold more than $2 million in winning lottery tickets since 2011, ranking them among the best places to strike it rich.
Ohio Lottery sales are expected to decline this year with the recent opening of casinos and racinos, but Dayton-area outlets show no decline in demand.
Nearly 750 retailers in Montgomery, Greene, Warren and Miami counties had more than $460 million in sales the past three years. Bee Gee’s Minit Market in Kettering had the most lottery sales in the area and sold the most winning tickets, a Dayton Daily News examination found.
“We projected a 5 percent decline in state sales across the board in fiscal year 2013 due to the opening of casinos in the state,” said Marie Kilbane Seckers, director of marketing and communications for the Ohio Lottery. “Instant sales, which make up more than half of our sales, are down 4.5 percent to date. Overall, lottery sales are essentially flat, down 1.6 percent.”
The newspaper’s examination found the odds of buying a winning ticket increase if a lottery player buys them at a retailer with high-volume sales, but a little luck also helps to win bigger prizes.
Bee Gee’s, located on Bigger Road, sold the third most tickets in the state last year and it has consistently processed the most prizes in both numbers and dollars (fifth most in Ohio). During 2012, it cashed more than 106,000 winning tickets worth $1,685,181, following similar results in 2011.
However, H & L Market on North Gettysburg Avenue in Dayton has paid out the highest per winning ticket over the past three years. The average winning there, while nowhere near the level of a jackpot, was $44 and points out that most people who consistently play the lottery aren’t are getting rich.
Players paid out more than $460 million in the four counties since 2011 to win $320 million. Bee Gee’s average was $16.17 for winning tickets, which includes everything from scratch off games to Powerball.
“Sales and prizes typically follow each other. Outlets with the most sales will generally also have the most winners over time,” Seckers said.
Manager Ron Saleh credited “good service” for H & L’s popularity with lottery players. “We are patient with them. Most of them know how to play. If not, we will take the time to show them.”
But he couldn’t pinpoint the reason for its percentage of winners. “I could only guess.”
The store’s lucky charm might be Angela Goens, who has worked there 11 years and oversees lottery operations.
She said the 50-cent Pick 3 and Pick 4 games are the most popular ones among her customers.
“We have a Lucky Numbers Board on which we display some suggested numbers to play. I pick those numbers out of my head. A lot of customers do play them. Every month, we have winners doing that. During May, we had four or five winners.”
The numbers change daily.
Lottery players tend to have their favorite outlets and games, which can vary by location and neighborhood.
Customers at Hall’s Carryout in Beavercreek and at the Crown East Marathon in Franklin are higher rollers.
Hall’s owner Pat Patel, who bought the store four years ago, said the instant $20 and $10 lottery games are most popular there.
“They know that if they win those, the prizes tend to be bigger. They don’t like to play the scratch-off games as much, but we sell a lot of those, too,” he said.
“Most of them are the regulars, but we are on a busy corner and always get some new customers who are working in the area or passing through.”
Patel said lottery “is an important part of our business. The commissions add up. They help pay my utility bill at the end of the month.”
Kilbane Seckers said stores earn a statewide average of 6.2 percent in commissions on sales and for cashing tickets. The rest of the proceeds from lottery sales, by state law, are used for education purposes in Ohio.
Customers at Bee Gee’s in Kettering favor the scratch-off tickets. “There are more than 60 of those, but our people love them,” said store clerk Kody Myers.
Big sellers at one of Miami County’s lottery leaders, Action GBW (Gas, Beer, Wine) on Staunton Road in Troy, are $5 games including Cashword, Blackout Bingo and Cash Blowout.
“We have one lady who will come in and do $50 of those at a time,” said employee Susan Spiers. “We’ll go through a strand of 50 of those once or twice a day. When we order more, we order a lot of those.”
Gary Gill, owner of the Crown East Marathon on South Dixie Highway in Franklin, said, “We’ve had people win $10,000 and $2,500. We probably have a $1,000 winner monthly and $500 winners two or three times a month.”
The most popular games there are “the scratch-offs. Those can range from $1 to $20. People who play here favor the $20 ones,” he said.
Ohio has had only two Powerball jackpot winners – both in 2010, in the Columbus and Toledo regions. But the state has captured 17 $1 million to $2 million prizes in that game since 2012.
The Ohio Lottery said it awards almost 10 million prizes per month. Most are $100 or less.
The “lucky store” locator on its website pinpoints locations where tickets worth $1 million or more have been awarded since 2011. A search centered in Dayton brings two results: the Meijer on Ohio 741 in West Carrollton and the West Main Street BP station in Springfield.
Kilbane Seckers said no one knows where the next one will be sold. “It might be at a high-volume seller like Bee Gee’s, which has sold Ohio Lottery since 1995. Or it might be at a store in the smallest town in Preble County.”
Beyond the headlines
The Dayton Daily News poured over three years of Ohio Lottery data and found the locations selling the most winning tickets in four area counties.