The private operator of the Hoosier Lottery is expanding the hours that convenience stores and other outlets can sell lottery tickets, a change that allows those sales to continue late into the night.
The Hoosier Lottery has traditionally shut down the terminals retailers use to sell lottery tickets between 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. But starting Sunday, those terminals will run until 2 a.m. and be turned back on at 3:30 a.m.
Hoosier Lottery executive director Karl Browning told The Indianapolis Star the expanded hours are the result of a new computer system provided by Gtech Corp., the company that won a contract in October to take over the lottery's day-to-day management operations.
Lottery vendor Scientific Games had provided the lottery terminals, but Gtech — the Rhode Island-based subsidiary of Italian company Lottomatica Group — has replaced Scientific Games' terminals with its new system.
"They have a much more modern system, and it doesn't require as much down time," Browning said.
Gtech's contract with the lottery requires it to dramatically boost revenue for the state, an average of an additional $100 million a year over the next five years.
The expanded terminal hours will allow some second-shift workers an opportunity to buy a ticket on their way home. But Browning said the expanded hours are not expected to play a significant role in boosting income.
"It's about customer convenience rather than sales," he said.
Browning also said store owners will ultimately decide the hours when they sell tickets.
"We have no more right to tell them to stay open than Coca-Cola does," he said.
Greenfield resident Mark Hine, 53, said there have been some times when he wanted to buy a lottery ticket but could not because the terminals were shut down.
"In the past, knowing there was a cutoff time, I might not bother," he told The Star.
Lottery critics, however, see the additional hours as the latest expansion of gambling and the problems it brings.
"Anytime you increase gambling, you're going to increase the opportunity for problem gambling," said Janet Jacobs, director of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church's Gambling Recovery Ministries.
The lottery has been pushing to increase the number of retailers who sell lottery tickets and it recently launched a new advertising campaign that's drawn complaints by critics that the campaign is more aggressive.
Indiana's lottery revenues are used to reduce motor vehicle taxes and to fund pension and retirement funds for teachers, police and firefighters.