D.C. store owners lament shortage of lottery tickets

(WJLA) - Small business owner Jose Cedillo unwrapped a delivery of scratch-off lottery tickets for the machine in his northwest D.C. liquor store on Monday.

Cedillo said that a shortage of tickets means his store is making a tenth of what it did a year ago.

"We lose money because we used to sell 7,000 tickets a we sell 2,000 to 3,000 a month," he told ABC7.

On Monday, a majority of the tickets in Cedillo's store's machine were sold out, and where it used to have 25 varieties, now there's just a handful.

"A lot of people complain," he said. "'No tickets, no tickets' some of them say...[or they say] 'Oh, in Maryland, they have good tickets."

The D.C. Council has twice in the last year rejected contracts for scratch-off tickets -- once because it did not mean district-required business guidelines, and the second time because the contract was too costly.

"I think they need to put some more tickets in the machines we play," said lottery player Carl Simmons. "I'm really missing to play."

The district's chief financial officer, Jeff DeWitt, has proposed a solution which would ultimately result in a more streamlined lottery system. In the meantime, he said he's aware of the financial consequences:

"The short term impact, if we do nothing, is $6 million, but it actually goes beyond that -- because if you don't have instant tickets, people may not come in and play other games," DeWitt said.

The short-term fix while the District tries to get all of its lottery games combined into one contract is to get scratch-off tickets from all three providers in the U.S., offering customers more variety and a ticket inventory back up to a more desired level.