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Six-figure lottery delayed 2 months

State agency says not enough money raised to support the raffle

Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The second six-figure statewide lottery in Alaska history was postponed by more than two months because the sponsors have not sold enough tickets.

The Vietnam Veterans of America No. 903 and Lucky Times Pull Tabs of Anchorage delayed the Sept. 7 drawing of $250,000 until Nov. 11 - Veterans Day - because there wasn't enough money raised to support the lottery, according to the Alaska Department of Revenue. The state only allows such lotteries if they benefit a charity.

Ten percent of what is leftover after the $250,000 payout will go toward the veterans' charity, according to a press release from July when the lottery was announced.

Calls were placed to Abe Spicola on Monday, the owner of Lucky Times Pull Tabs and the organizer of the lottery, to inquire about where the rest of the profits would be going. The calls were not returned as of press time.

"A raffle has to show a profit or it's a violation of the gaming law," said Jeffrey Prather, gaming group manager for the state Department of Revenue. "The purpose of these raffles is to raise money for the organization that's conducting it, or that it is being conducted for."

It was unclear Monday how many tickets were sold prior to the original drawing day. Tickets cost $5 each.

"We wouldn't know (the number of tickets sold) until a raffle was conducted and we did an audit or they filed an annual report with us," Prather said. "That won't be until March of next year."

The lottery organizers did file the proper paperwork with the state and the deadline was extended, Prather said.

Marlintini's Lounge owner Ethan Billings, who is a ticket distributor in the Juneau area but not directly associated with the lottery itself, said the delay is a disappointment for some but said in the end more money will be raised for charity.

"It's still in its infancy of figuring this thing out," he said. "(Spicola) is taking a big chance and a big risk to provide this opportunity to people to win a big prize and help a charity. It's a new thing. This is only the second one."

The first lottery of this kind in Alaska was held in January for a $500,000 payout, which was also organized by Spicola and Lucky Times Pull Tabs for the non-profit STAR, or Standing Together Against Rape. The lottery generated some controversy when convicted sex offender Alec Ahsoak won the half-million dollar payout and was subsequently assaulted in the following days.

Billings said none of his customers seem to be "up in arms" after learning the expected drawing date was postponed to allow more people to have a chance at winning, worsening their odds of walking away with the $250,000.

"People are kind of disappointed and upset but I think it was a good move by Abe to make sure the charity makes money because that is what this thing is all about."

As of Monday, the local bars selling the tickets have not received a new poster announcing the new date from Lucky Times Pull Tabs.

Lucky Times Pull Tabs and STAR have also announced another $500,000 lottery partnership and tickets are already on sale. The drawing has been set for 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2010 in Anchorage. Tickets are $5 and people do not have to be present at the time of the drawing to win.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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