The bonus nearly pays for the newly bought stand, and its owners hope their luck draws more customers.
By MELIA BOWIE
Published April 6, 2004
PORT RICHEY - Maybe lightning will strike twice.
For many regulars at the Mall News Stand in Port Richey, that was the hope Monday after news broke that the kiosk sold Saturday's winning $3-million Lotto ticket.
"Everybody comes in and congratulates us," said Agnes Schaaf, an employee at the stand located inside Gulf View Square mall.
Then they buy a ticket.
Lately it is Lotto. Some play the scratch-off games.
Others prefer Fantasy Five, which was a winner for the store in 2003, when a ticket sold at the kiosk on Dec. 4 netted a Pasco woman more than $81,000.
She bought a new car. Kiosk owners put up a sign on the front register boasting of the win.
Soon it will be updated.
"The other day somebody was asking, "Have you ever sold a big ticket?"' said employee Shana Maluk, laughing as she rang up customers Monday. "I'd point right here and say Fantasy Five. Now I can say Lotto."
Call it a lucky streak, said the kiosk's three co-owners: Bill Gamel, Billy DiCarte (owner of Billy's Auto & Lotto in downtown New Port Richey) and Don Gabriel.
The trio bought the Mall News Stand in November at a discount after the previous owner ran into financial difficulty with Florida Lottery officials.
Their stake from Saturday's $3-million win - a standard $10,000 bonus issued by lottery officials to the winning retailer - will just about cover the kiosk's purchase price.
"So in essence, that money will come back to us," Gamel said.
The kiosk, with its variety of scratch-off games, newspapers, snacks and other knickknacks attracts a steady clientele of seniors.
Hopefully, this month's win will bring in more, said Gamel, who worked as a Lotto sales representative for 14 years before buying the kiosk with DiCarte - one of his former accounts.
And while the $3-million winner has yet to come forward, lottery spokesman Frank Penela in Tallahassee said the newsstand should receive its $10,000 bonus in two or three business days.
But do kiosk customers think the recent win will improve their own odds?
"It doesn't make any difference,' said John Lire of Spring Hill, walking away from the stand Monday with his just-purchased scratch-off game.
Then he paused.
Slowly, Lire turned back around and returned to the counter with his freshly scratched ticket.
He smiled sheepishly as he handed it over to the clerk.
"I just won $5."
- Melia Bowie can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6229. Her e-mail address is email@example.com