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New York lottery agents want increase in ticket sale commissions

Convenience stores across New York want a bigger commission on the sale of lottery tickets.
Convenience stores across New York want a bigger commission on the sale of lottery tickets.

An association that represents convenience stores across the state is calling for an increase in the commission rate that lottery sales agents receive.

Jim Calvin, who is president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, said that lottery agents have been getting a 6% commission rate on ticket sales, the same percentage that was set back in 1967.

During a stop in Rochester on Friday, Calvin noted that the minimum wage has increased more than 60% over the last couple of decades, which increases payroll costs for the convenience stores and other locations that sell lottery tickets.

“Meanwhile, the lottery commissions that we earned only increased 14%,” said Calvin. “So there’s a growing gap between the store expenses associated with selling lottery and the income that the lottery agent is earning.”

Calvin said the lottery agents are asking for a 1% increase in their ticket sales commission, to 7%, which would be phased in over the next four years.

Calvin said that the lottery agents are not looking for the state to take money from existing lottery proceeds that are allocated to education.

He said the state could get the funds for the increase in the lottery agent commission by tapping revenues generated by the new digital forms of gaming.

“Through additional casinos downstate, through mobile sports betting, and other forms of gambling that will generate more than enough income to fund this long overdue adjustment for the retailers who are selling lottery tickets,” said Calvin.

The New York State Gaming Commission issued a statement on Friday saying that any change in the agent compensation structure must be carefully evaluated. The state also said that while the commission percentage has not changed over the years, the volume of (game) play per transaction has substantially increased over time, so that a lottery agent is “likely realizing a greater margin per transaction” than they had seen previously.

Calvin said the lottery agents are going to try and convince state lawmakers to include the increase in their commissions in the upcoming state budget.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.