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Friday, December 5, 2003

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Lottery today marked another milestone with the approval of the first authorized retailers in what will be a fast-growing, statewide network of retail partners.

This morning, Lottery officials gave final approval to 26 independent retailers that now are authorized to sell lottery tickets when the games launch on or before February 10. Officials stressed the initial group, representing outlets from Memphis to Elizabethton, is the first of hundreds of retailers that will clear approvals on a “rolling basis” in the coming days as the approval process kicks into overdrive.

“From this point forward, we’ll be adding retailers on a daily and even hourly basis,” said Rebecca Paul, president and CEO of the Tennessee Lottery. “The list will grow quickly as we complete the necessary background checks and approvals.”

In addition to approving independent outlets this morning, Lottery officials are wrapping up approvals for several corporate retailers that each have applied with dozens of locations, including Mapco Express, Mr. Zip and Roadrunner Markets. Approving retailers that bring multiple outlets, in addition to the independent operators, will result in a rapid expansion of the Lottery’s retail network.

“Building a strong retail network at startup is vital to the future performance of any successful lottery,“ Paul said. “We’re excited about welcoming these first businesses to our brand-new family of retail partners.”

Paul encouraged other Tennessee retailers that haven’t yet turned in their applications to do so immediately if they want to be approved in time to be part of the initial kickoff excitement. “With startup just around the corner, there’s a lot of work to be done in a relatively short period of time,” she said. “We need adequate time for approvals if we’re going to install the necessary equipment and provide training before the kickoff.”

Almost as fast as retail locations are approved, the Tennessee Lottery and its technology partner GTECH Corp. will schedule installations of state-of-the-art, touch-screen computer terminals and satellite dishes necessary to sell tickets and connect to the Lottery’s telecommunications system.

Following the installations, Lottery officials will schedule regional training sessions in early to mid-January for retailers to learn how to operate the equipment. Both equipment and training will be provided free of charge.

For retailers, the economic benefits of selling lottery tickets are both tangible and intangible. In exchange for participating, retailers will receive a commission of 6.5% on the Lottery's sales in their stores. In addition, participating retailers also should benefit from increased customer traffic in their stores.

To sell tickets, retailers must pass criminal background checks as well as credit checks. Additionally, they must be in “good standing” with the Tennessee Department of Revenue. The only application cost is a $95 application fee. Retailers seeking more information can download an application packet online or call (615) 253-6881 to receive a packet by mail.

The Tennessee Lottery is moving down a rapid path to begin selling tickets on or before February 10. Most immediately, the Lottery is charged with raising at least $88 million by July 1 in order to fund scholarships for an estimated 65,000 students expected to attend Tennessee colleges and universities next fall.

“We’re looking forward to working with our retail partners to provide benefits for education and fun for players in Tennessee,” Paul said.

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