Governor’s office responds to criticism about lottery still running

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The offices where lottery winners would normally go to claim their prizes are closed until April 14, at least.

But as the sign on the door of the Michigan State Lottery office at 3391 Plainfield Ave. NE on Grand Rapids’ north side says, tickets may still be purchased at retail locations. For one convenience store cashier, that is a big problem.

“I think the state should shut down all in-store sales for now,” said Theresa Prelesnik, a cashier at a Muskegon-area store who is sounding the alarm about what she says is the dangerous lure of tickets tempting people to go to stores to get their lottery fix.

She said the fact that most stores do cash-only sales for lottery tickets to avoid paying credit cards fees means cashiers like her are forced to exchange germy currency and makes the 6-foot safe distance almost impossible to impose.

News 8 went to lottery officials with a lot of questions about why sales were continuing despite the fact that they have closed their own offices for safety reasons. In an email statement, a spokesperson said the agency encourages social distancing and pointed out that retailers can turn off their machines.

On Tuesday, the governor’s office provided a response that is very similar. It reads in part:

“Only purchase lottery tickets if already at a store purchasing food, fuel, or other necessary items. Retailers are encouraged to consider whether their location is conducive to appropriate social distancing, and MSL will deactivate the Lottery terminal for any retailer upon request.”

The governor’s office says it is still monitoring the situation and lottery officials are still considering what they will do next.