N.J. Lottery puts new vending machines in Wawas

Darryl Mayue of Pennsauken makes selections on a lottery machine in a Wawa in Cherry Hill. All in state will get them.
Darryl Mayue of Pennsauken makes selections on a lottery machine in a Wawa in Cherry Hill. All in state will get them. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 24, 2013

Wawa stores in New Jersey have been slowly rolling out self-service vending machines to sell instant-win cards and draw games from the New Jersey Lottery.

At the grand opening of a Wawa store Friday in Jackson, lottery officials helped celebrate the formal announcement of the partnership, which allows tickets to be sold through the machines.

Wawa plans to have every New Jersey store - 240 at current count, with more opening soon - equipped with the machines by Memorial Day. The Jackson store was the 30th to install a machine.

"We heard enough feedback . . . talking to customers over the years that they don't like waiting in line," said Jim Shortall, Wawa's regional director for New Jersey. "That's the big win here - customers have been really clamoring, I think, for something that's been quick and easy."

Owners of mom-and-pop shops, which often depend on lottery sales for a significant portion of their revenue, don't relish the prospect of kiosks popping up at Wawas across the state.

"Definitely, I will lose a lot of business. . . . It'll be a major conflict with me," said Hemesh Patel, 47, owner of the Mail House on Cooper Landing Road in Cherry Hill, which has about 120 lottery customers a day.

Lottery sales bring in about $25,000 a year, Patel said, down from the $41,000 the store took in when it started selling tickets in 2005. Patel, who bought out the store next door to keep it from selling lottery tickets, said he hoped human contact would keep drawing customers.

"One should pay attention to the customer. . . . This is more convenient than the machine," he said, citing sales clerks' help when a new player is confused by the options. "The whole country runs on the service basis."

But Shortall said he thought customers would flock to the machines partly because of speed.

"This is what I think they would call the state-of-the-art machine. . . . It's faster, there's less steps," Shortall said.

For draw games, the quickest method is the "quick pick" tickets the machine prints using randomly generated numbers. Players can select their own numbers by filling out scannable forms as usual; instead of handing them to a clerk to scan, players feed them into the machine, which reads and registers them.

The New Jersey Lottery has older ticket-vending machines in other stores, a spokeswoman said, but the Wawa launch is the first to use a new generation of machines that spit out both instant-win games and draw games such as Powerball, Pick-6 Lotto, and Jersey Cash 5.

The older "machines don't have the online capability for the draw games," said Judith Drucker, a spokeswoman for the lottery. "This is a later, more higher-level technology."

The machines are cash-only and do not dispense change.

A newly opened Wawa on Haddonfield Road in Cherry Hill was the second store to participate in the pilot program. Open since Oct. 12, it has had a steady stream of customers, a manager said.

As they trickled in Friday afternoon, lottery customers cited the convenience of buying tickets from the store they would have stopped at anyway.

"It's on my way. I get cigarettes here because they're usually cheaper, and the coffee," said Brian Mortimer, 40, of Delran. With no loyalty to a particular store, Mortimer said, he plays the lottery several times a week at whatever place happens to be convenient at the time: "It's six of one, half-dozen of the other. . . . It's absolutely convenient."

Darryl Mayue, who said he frequents the Cherry Hill store because it's close to his job, said he preferred the self-serve nature of the kiosk.

"You don't have to wait in line. . . . You know, you get a lot of people in line," said Mayue, 46, of Pennsauken. "That's what it's all about, convenience. You can get everything here: coffee, gas, now lottery."

For now, Patel's hopes are bolstered by the reaction from some of his regular customers.

Rich Consentino wasn't planning on going anywhere. He said he would keep shopping at the smaller store, a small act of protest.

"They don't need lottery," Consentino said of Wawa. "Why should they get more of the pie? They'll kill the little guy."


jlai@phillynews.com

856-779-3220 @elaijuh

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