LAMBERTVILLE - Whenever Michigan's Big Game lottery reaches extreme levels, it's the storeowners in southeast Michigan who feel like they've hit the jackpot. The businesses swell with lottery players, most of whom have driven across the state line from Ohio hoping to strike it rich.
Michigan store owners could lose that extra income now that Ohio leaders have agreed to join a multistate lottery. The state has not decided whether it will participate in the Big Game, Powerball, or another lottery game.
“It would affect us a lot. If they get the Big Game, they won't come here,” said Karen Prevenas, a longtime store manager at Independent Dairy, Inc., at Secor and Summerfield roads a couple miles across the state line. “But you have to do what you have to do.”
Ohio leaders said this week they will allow a multistate lottery game in the state as one way to help eliminate an estimated $1.5 billion deficit in the state's budget.
Officials predict a new multistate lottery game could generate $41 million a year for the state.
Bill Zeiler of Zeiler's Farm Market on Lewis Avenue said he understands Ohio's need for additional income. But he said he's hopeful Ohio won't join in Michigan's Big Game or Powerball, which is played in Indiana.
Instead, Mr. Zeiler said Ohio should participate in another multistate lottery game or start its own, which would benefit residents in Michigan and Indiana.
“I think that would be better for all states involved,” Mr. Zeiler said.
To accommodate those first-time customers, Mr. Zeiler said the store opens a side door and allows lines to exit from the building. “It's nice when it happens,” he said. “It's like an early Christmas.”
The same thing happens in Decatur, Ind., where Ohio and sometimes Michigan residents flock to buy Powerball tickets.
Lisa Paisley, a store manager at Johnson Junction in Decatur, said 70 people stood in line together at her store in August when Powerball reached nearly $200 million.
But Ms. Paisley said she was unsure how many of those people were Ohio residents. She also said those big game days aren't major sources of annual revenue, so that Ohio's lottery decisions shouldn't have a big impact on her store.
People who stand to gain from the change are lottery players such as Paul Molenda, of Lambertville.
Mr. Molenda works in Ohio at Toledo Powertrain but lives in Michigan, where he buys lottery tickets every day. He and his coworkers also have made the drive to Indiana to play Powerball.
The factory worker said he would support another lottery game in Ohio.
“It sounds good,” he said. “That's another chance to win.”