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Friday
Apr122013

Website Wants to Sell Lotto Tickets Online

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Those Californians who missed out on the state’s first Powerball drawing on Wednesday, which did not yield a winner, will have another chance at the estimated $60 million jackpot during the second drawing on Saturday.

Homebound residents or anybody else who doesn’t feel like visiting a retail store can purchase tickets through Lottogopher.com.

Based in California, Lottogopher.com is a subscription-based service that allows state residents to purchase lottery tickets online.  Strict laws regulate brick-and-mortar retailers who sell lottery tickets, prohibiting the sale of lottery tickets for other than the retail price or phone and Internet sales.

Lottogopher.com is completely legal because it’s analogous to a messenger service, said founder and CEO James Morel, 42.

Because state lotteries are restricted to residents, Morel said he hopes to expand his business in some of the other 42 states that have lotteries.  On his radar are states with high per capita lottery spending, like New York, Florida and Massachusetts.

The company, based in West Hollywood, has about 10 full-time and part-time employees.

Here’s how it works: Customers purchase one of two subscriptions -- $12 a month or $99 a year.  That’s in addition to the cost of the tickets.  California residents can tell Lottogopher.com their lottery numbers or choose the automated, random-number option.  They purchase lottery tickets at face value with a credit card and Lottogopher.com employees go to a retailer to purchase their tickets.

Lottogopher.com doesn’t mail your lottery tickets, but you can keep track of your numbers and ticket history in your user dashboard.

“Instead of losing your ticket in your glove compartment, you can see upcoming drawings and past tickets,” Morel said.

Winnings less than $600 are credited to your Lottogopher account within 24 hours.  Customers can cash in by having a check sent to you or your winnings credited to the credit card you used.

“We do all the dirty work for you,” Morel said, addingthat  the company is bonded and insured.

Winnings over $600 require a payout from a regional State Lottery office and must be collected in person by a Lottogopher representative on your behalf.  The company then sends a check in your name.

With the addition of the popular Powerball game to California, Lottogopher.com doubled sales with Wednesday’s drawing.

Last year, Illinois became the first state to offer online lottery ticket sales, and it’s not expected to be the last.

But Morel expects many brick-and-mortar retailers will push back against official online sales in other states.  He hopes Lottogopher.com can fill the gap, reaching customers who don’t already go to a retail store for lottery tickets.

“We’re opening the market to a whole new group of people,” he said, adding that there are competitors based in other countries illegally offering similar services to Americans.

Morel’s customers tend to be young buyers who are comfortable with online purchases and prefer instant gratification, and older clients who don’t have the means or transportation to get to a retailer.

“We’re making it customer-friendly, simple and modern.  It’s about making things easy,” Morel said.  “If you made things easy, you could sell more lottery tickets and raise more money for schools and education.  You give the customers what they want, which is what we’re doing.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio