TUPELO • A week from Monday, customers can get a haircut, massage and a lottery ticket at Gameday Haircuts & Spa.

The business is one of nearly 1,200 retailers statewide that will be selling lottery scratch-off tickets.

Although a bit unusual for a hair salon to offer lottery tickets, Mississippi Lottery officials say there are several outlets that will be selling them. Primarily, sellers will be convenience stores, gas stations, supermarkets, grocery stores and tobacco/beer stores, but other businesses are eligible. Licensed casinos are also applicable.

Adam Watson and Christina Komarec opened Gameday two years ago in Tupelo and recnelty opened another location in Corinth. For now, only the Tupelo store will sell lottery tickets.

“We’ve got all the equipment, and it’s ready to go,” Watson said. “They came in a couple of weeks ago and installed it and we did the training.

“On the 25th, there will be four lottery ticket options – a $1, two $2 options and a $5 option, and those will be the scratch-and-wins. On the last day of January, the state will offer the multi-state Powerball and MegaMillion tickets. That’s when the crowds will be huge, when the jackpots get higher and higher.”

Meg Annison, the director of communications for the Mississippi Lottery, said about 1,600 applications are currently being reviewed for retailers looking to sell lottery tickets.

“It just takes a little time, and there’s no cutoff for applications,” she said. “We’re accepting them all the time and reviewing them.”

Applicants pay an upfront cost of $80. Lottery equipment, supplies and training are provided at no cost, pending approval of the application. Each additional store costs $15. There is a $20 weekly service fee per store to cover operational expenses.

Retailers get 6% commission on lottery sales.

And another benefit of selling lottery tickers, official say, is more repeat customers, additional customer traffic and increased sales of other store merchandise.

The Lottery’s retail network includes traditional outlets such as convenience stores, gas stations and grocery stores, as well as locations such as barbershops, beauty salons, electronics stores, restaurants and sporting goods stores.

Well-known brands like Papa V’s, Dodge’s, Sprint Mart, Blue Sky and Circle K are among the multi-unit stores that will be selling tickets in the region and statewide.

Applicants must pass a credit check, a criminal background check and are in good standing with the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

For Watson, getting the chance to sell lottery tickets has come full circle.

When he was in college and going to Dallas to play tennis, he bought his first lottery tickets and promptly won.

“I bought a $2 scratch-and-win ticket and won $1,000,” he said with a laugh. “I always enjoyed playing because of that. I’ve had success at times, and of course I’ve spent some money. But I’ve been hooked since. When they announced the lottery was coming to Mississippi, I was excited and knew I wanted to bring it to our business. And it really works with our name, Gameday.”

And if you happen to hit it big, retailers can pay up to $600; anything more than that and you have to go to Jackson to get the prize money from the lottery office.

In Baldywn, Pace Pak A Pok owner Chintan Brahmbhatt also has his equipment and signs up, ready to sell lottery tickets. He has no doubt that he’ll see increased traffic in his store.

“I think it’ll be good for business and bring more people into the store,” he said. “Everybody is excited about it. I have no doubt that getting the lottery will be good. I really believe everything you do to bring people in, you should do it.”

Applications are now being accepted online at mslotteryhome.com for retailers interested in selling lottery tickets.

The first $80 million of lottery proceeds will go toward the state highway fund to help with the state’s infrastructure, with the remaining going to the the education enhancement fund. That deal is in place for the first 10 years of the lottery. After that, the first $80 million will go to the general fund.

Potential retailers who have not signed up and are interested should visit www.mslotteryhome.com and click on “Retailer Resources.” There is no limit to the number of retailers the MLC may accept.

But not everyone is on board with the lottery just yet.

In Saltillo The Store owner John Maynor is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“I’m not going to sell them yet – I want to see how it goes first,” he said. “Now if I see that it’s hurting business, I’ll consider. But for right now, I’m going to hold off.”


Twitter: @dennisseid

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