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Casey's Resumes Lottery Sales

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Casey's General Stores, which pulled the plug on the Iowa Lottery a decade ago, is resuming sales of Powerball and other games at its 340 Iowa stores, reported the Des Moines Register.

The return of Casey's, Iowa's largest convenience store chain, should generate an additional $4 million to $5 million annually in lottery profits for state government programs, said Iowa Lottery president Edward Stanek.

More than half of Casey's stores in Iowa have already begun selling lottery products and all of the company's Iowa outlets will offer the games by early January, Stanek said. "This is 95 percent good news for us. The only short-term problem is that the Iowa Lottery must immediately spend $1.8 million for satellite communications gear, ticket-vending equipment and other items needed to resume lottery sales at Casey's stores," added Stanek.

Casey's, which has its headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa, decided 10 years ago to stop selling lottery products in all states where it did business, said Bill Walljasper, the company's CFO. One reason was a lack of internal management controls to coordinate lottery sales, which made the tickets susceptible to theft, Walljasper said.

Another was that most Casey's stores had only one cash register, and selling lottery tickets made it difficult to serve customers purchasing gasoline and other items. A third reason was that Casey's couldn't obtain lottery terminals at all of its stores to sell games like Powerball, he said.

All of those issues are now resolved, Walljasper said. Internal control measures to sell lottery tickets are improved, and many Casey's stores now have multiple cash registers. A host of lottery games such as Powerball and scratch tickets will now be offered at Casey's stores, he said.

"First and foremost, we want to make sure we are serving the needs of the customer," Walljasper said. "Secondly, it is a traffic driver. We do make a small amount of money on the lottery, but it also drives traffic into our stores, and hopefully they will buy something else while they are in there."

Casey's, which operates more than 1,300 stores in nine midwestern states, also has resumed selling state lottery tickets in Wisconsin and Indiana.

"Our intent is to springboard off of the state of Iowa and get into other states as well," Walljasper said. After Iowa, the two main states where Casey's will begin selling lottery tickets again are Illinois and Missouri. Those three states represent 70 percent to 75 percent of the company's store base, he said.
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