Milford resident James Brown stood scratching away at his "3 Times Lucky" scratch card in the Bridgeport Ave. BP gas station Tuesday afternoon.
"I buy them about once a week," said Brown of the various lottery tickets. "Won a trip to Vegas once."
George Altieri of West Haven sipped his coffee in the corner of the Milford gas station across from Brown.
"I was just in here this morning for mine," said Altieri, "I'm in here every week, probably since they started. I'm going to win tonight," he smiled.
Neither have hit the jackpot yet, but both still make their weekly contributions toward the big prize.
As the Connecticut Lottery approaches a milestone next month, officials say state residents are spending more on them than ever.
“On Feb. 16, we’ll turn 40 years old,” said Diane Patterson, vice president of marketing and sales at the Connecticut Lottery Corporation in Rocky Hill.
Statistics posted on the Connecticut Lottery’s website say in Fiscal Year 1972, its first year, sales of the weekly Connecticut Lotto totaled $17,288,925. But Patterson said sales for Fiscal Year 2011, which ended on June 30 of last year, topped $1 billion for the first time, and Fiscal Year 2012 is already looking like it will set even higher record sales.
“We had a very good first two quarters and a very good holiday season,” she said.
In November, Connecticut saw its biggest lottery prize ever, a $245 million jackpot won by three asset managers who work for a Greenwich investment firm. And already this year, the state had its first $1 million winner, a woman cement truck driver from Ashford, Marilyn Rossi, who bought the winning ticket for the Super Draw game.
Patterson said the Connecticut Lottery Corporation was still preparing its annual reportfor 2011, but she could report that the lottery paid $289,300,000 for that fiscal year to the state’s general fund to support state programs and reduce taxes.
The next big lottery news starts on Jan. 15, when tickets go on sale for the newly revamped, multi-state PowerBall game.
The price of a PowerBall ticket will go from $1 to $2, and the minimum guaranteed jackpot prize will jump from $20 million to $40 million. Patterson said other changes willinclude more chances to win more than $1 million on each drawing, and the overall odds of winning will improve, going from the current 1 in 35 odds to 1 in 31.
“So it’s going to be a little easier to win a prize in PowerBall,” she said.
Patterson added the Lottery disclaimer against excessive betting. “We remind our customers to play responsibly, and you have to be over 18,” she said.
Jay and his son Asad, owners of the BP on Bridgeport Ave. for the last three years, say sales seem steady after the holiday spike in lottery ticket purchases.
"Things get pretty busy if there's a big PowerBall or a Super Draw though," added Asad.