Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Drinkin', Smokin' and Gamblin'

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The neighborhood convenience store is a place where you can find everything that’s bad for you: Ding-Dongs, Ho-Hos, American cheese slices, American Spirit cigarettes, Mountain Dew, Dinty Moore beef stew, Crazy Horse malt liquor, Gilbey’s gin, and, of course, lottery tickets.

    Now, the vice vendors who run our cornershops are complaining about the Illinois Lottery’s plan to sell tickets online. According to Illinois Issues:

    Bill Fleischli of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and the Illinois Association of Convenience Stores said during a news conference today that lottery ticket sales bring customers into gasoline stations and convenience stores, and that prompts sales of other products, such as food and beverages…Fleischli said anything that might reduce customer traffic into stores could be particularly damaging to businesses and potentially lead to layoffs. He said online lottery sales could result in 4,000 to 8,000 lost jobs.

    That’s because convenience stores make their money by serving cross addicts. If you’re hooked on gamblin’, there’s a good chance you’re also hooked on drinkin’ and smokin’. That mini-mart is a one-stop emporium to feed all your bad habits. We’ve all been stuck in line behind this guy: “I’ll have a pint of Canadian Club, a box of White Owl cigars and the $1 Pick 3, 2-3-4 straight and 2-3-4 box.” Saw off one leg of that trinity, and the entire stool supporting the convenience store industry may collapse.     
        
    The retailers are supporting a House bill that would force lottery players to continue visiting liquor stores. Online players would only be allowed to buy tickets by using a card purchased with cash at an established lottery outlet, where clerks would verify that the player is over 18.

    There’s all kinds of gambling on the Internet already. You can play poker online. You can bet on the Kentucky Derby. You should be able to play the lottery just as easily. Convenience stores will just have to hope their customers have spent so much money on booze, cigarettes and lottery tickets that they can’t afford computers.

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