UNITED STATES NEWS

Lotto means biggest bet is 40 miles south of Vegas

Mar 31, 2012, 4:07 AM

Associated Press

PRIMM, Nev. (AP) – In some states, buying a chance to win the record $640 million Mega Millions jackpot meant a road trip.

More than 1,200 people were lined up by 9 a.m. Friday to buy their lottery tickets at the Primm Valley Casino Resorts Lotto Store, which sits right across the California border from lottery-less Nevada.

The small store 40 miles from the Las Vegas Strip was the closest option for those in Sin City who wanted a shot at the jackpot, and some waited in line at least three hours to buy their tickets.

“I didn’t even want to come but everybody’s so hyped up,” said Kathy DellaSala-Shepherd, 55, who owns a pool cleaning business in Las Vegas.

The numbers drawn Friday night in Atlanta were 2-4-23-38-46, Mega Ball 23. Lottery officials expected to release details about possible winners a couple of hours after the 11 p.m. Eastern drawing.

DellaSala-Shepherd’s trek for tickets took her past people trying to make a more certain profit by hawking water and soda to the people in line, or scalping tickets for $20 to people who didn’t want to wait.

DellaSala-Shepherd said she doesn’t normally play the lottery because she prefers the odds of Keno. She said she once won a $25,000 Keno jackpot by matching nine numbers.

“Now, I feel a little lucky,” she said.

Sam Roark, director of operations for Primm Valley Resorts, said the store, across the street from an outlet mall, expected to sell more than 200,000 tickets Friday after selling 184,000 on Thursday.

One person, a Las Vegas boxer whom he would not name, bought $20,000 worth Thursday, Roark said.

If the store did sell a jackpot-winning ticket, it would be a winner, too. It would get $1 million, California lottery officials said.

At the Beaver Dam Service Station in Beaver Dam, Ariz., store clerk Lisa Lorton said people were driving in from Nevada and Utah, which is also without a state lottery. It’s been crazy, she said, with lines out the door, and it’s been that way for three days.

“We have lottery at the bar and lottery here, and both places are out to the parking lot,” Lorton said Friday. “Some people are buying a dollar’s worth. Other people are buying $300 worth.”

One man said he drove 30 miles from St. George, Utah, to purchase a Mega Millions ticket Friday.

Winning “would make my day,” Curt Colbert said. “It would make a lot of people’s days, because I’m a pretty generous guy.”

Lines were also out the door at Rosie’s Den cafe in the rural northwestern Arizona community of White Hills, 72 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

Rosie’s worker Christine Millim said it’s been nonstop for the past four days with people who aren’t afraid to plunk down big money for the jackpot. One person spent $2,600 on tickets, she said.

Dennis Martinez, a 30-year-old maintenance supervisor in Las Vegas who spent $80 on tickets in Primm, said he didn’t mind the 1-in-176-million odds of winning the jackpot because they’re better than zero.

“You can’t win if you don’t try _ it’s just the lottery,” he said.

When asked what he would do with the money, Martinez said: “10 percent goes to God, then the rest is for fun _ anything and everything I can do.”

“I don’t think I’ll start up a business because I won’t have to,” he said. “Put some in the bank and sit on it. You can’t go broke _ interest.”

___

Carlson reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writer Judy Lin in Sacramento, Calif., also contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Lotto means biggest bet is 40 miles south of Vegas