The folks who run Georgia's $3 billion-a-year lottery think they've found a winner in the baggage claim area of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Georgia Lottery Corp. has opened two brightly lighted sales centers at the world's busiest airport, and the wannabe wealthy have dropped more than $250,000 on tickets in less than a month.
"Sales have been very, very strong," said lottery spokeswoman Tandi Reddick, adding that the two outlets are likely going to be among the top retail outlets statewide.
Located in the baggage claims of the north and south terminals, they employ 13 people, offering counter sales and machines that feature scratch-off games with names such as Jumbo Bucks and Holiday Dough. Lottery sales finance Georgia's HOPE scholarship and pre-k education.
Karin Zima of Buckhead and her boyfriend took their chances on a couple of Cash 3 tickets Tuesday afternoon after picking up their baggage in the South Terminal after a four-day Colorado ski vacation. Zima played the numbers 233 and 322 --- the numbers of their hotel rooms in Denver and Beaver Creek.
"I never play the lottery," Zima said. "If this location hadn't been here, I wouldn't be holding these tickets."
Ruth Lassien of Rex said she usually buys two to four scratch-off tickets a week. Lassien, who works for Delta Global, said she now gets her tickets at Hartsfield-Jackson because of the convenience.
"I've never won," she said Tuesday as she bought two tickets. "But I'm still trying."
Atlanta's airport is getting in the lottery game a bit late --- Chicago's O'Hare, the nation's second-busiest, generates more than $2 million in sales each year, making it one of the top retail spots for the Illinois game. Reddick said lottery sales at other major airports have averaged between $1 million and $2 million annually.
More than 85 million people pass through Hartsfield-Jackson each year, and more than 55,000 work there.
Kyle Mastin, the concessions manager at Hartsfield-Jackson, said lottery officials approached the airport a few years back. The city-owned airport will get 5 percent to 7 percent of sales, depending on the game, Mastin said.
"We're looking at the travelers who would not normally buy a ticket and the people who use the airport, including employees and people like taxi drivers," he said. "It's a service-entertainment for the people who use the airport."
Nickiesha Slater, a lottery sales representative from Stone Mountain, said a couple came to her north terminal counter a few weeks back and dropped $300 on scratch-off tickets and the Millionaire Raffle game.
"They weren't from Georgia and they were just killing time waiting for someone to come pick them up," she said. "He just came up and said, 'Gimme two of everything.'"
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