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Inland Empire Business Journal Story About LottoGopher

Inland Empire Business Journal Story About LottoGopher
What is it about the chance of winning over half of a billion dollars that had celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Joe Flacco driving to stores to stand in line with the rest of the country to buy Lottery tickets?

What is it about the chance of winning over half of a billion dollars that had celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Joe Flacco driving to stores to stand in line with the rest of the country to buy Lottery tickets? Between the historical Megamillions and Powerball drawings in 2013, the landscaper who redeemed an unclaimed multi-Million winning scratcher, and the Canadian man who gave his winnings to charity, everyone suddenly seems to be talking about and playing the Lottery.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of Proposition 37, by which California voters approved a State Lottery. To put that into perspective, that same year marked the first Run through Redlands event and the incorporation of Moreno Valley. On a larger scale, 1984 was the year that the first Macintosh computers were sold, the median price for a home cost $72,400 and the Internet was the ARPANet. (You can look that one up.) While a lot has seemingly changed since California ushered in the Lottery 30 years ago, what has not changed is the way consumers buy lottery tickets.

In 2012, e-commerce sales reached a Trillion dollars. And, early estimates suggest that sales figures for 2013 may be even higher. Why lottery tickets remained the one item people had to obtain at a store and pay for in cash, made little sense to one serial entrepreneur. And in 2012, Lottogopher.com went into beta.

The brainchild of Southern California resident, James Morel, Lottogopher.com is the first website in the country through which consumers can legally order Megamillions, Powerball, and Super Lotto Plus tickets online. Morel came up with idea for Lottogopher based on a memorable childhood incident. "My parents bought a Quickpick ticket every week at the same store around the same time of day. One evening they were too tired to get in the car to drive to the store. So they skipped their weekly ticket. That night, a woman purchased a Quickpick at the time they normally did, and it was a winner. Who knows if they would have actually won, but that stayed with me. It probably stayed more with them," he says with a laugh, "but I never forgot that."

Morel who has founded a number of start-ups like 1-800 Postcards and tattoo removal chain Dr. TATTOFF kept recalling that memory as he started to build the idea for Lottogopher. "I just kept thinking that with everything for sale on the Internet, there has to be a virtual alternative to driving to the store."

Pricing and membership is tiered and works akin to a Netflix model. Casual players or those who only wish to purchase a single ticket per game pay only the face value of the ticket and can utilize Lottogopher's services for free. More serious players pay a monthly fee of $12.00 which enables users to buy as many tickets as they want for any game (again at face value) and gives them the option of pooling tickets with other Lottogopher members – whether they know them or not. (Think of it like an intra or inter office pools without having to deal with collecting money, making and distributing copies of tickets, or dealing with nosy Nancy in accounting who insists that her lucky number 17 be selected). Virtual pools may contain up to 100 tickets. As such, for the price of a single lottery ticket, members can play with up to 100 tickets. If any member of the pool wins, the entire group splits the winnings.

After every drawing, Lottogopher notifies winners of their winnings, keeps no portion of any prize money, automatically credits users' accounts, and oversees the pools thus avoiding the kind of litigation which has become all too prevalent with group owned tickets.

Morel hopes that through making the ordering of tickets available online, he will be able to make playing the Lottery more convenient and accessible while also attracting a new generation of Lottery players, used to doing everything online. "The old model of driving to the store, standing in line, and paying with cash, is not feasible for everyone. Of course we realize that some people will still order tickets the traditional way. We are just hoping to provide consumers with another option."

Morel's goals are being achieved. Though the company just came out of beta, they already have members throughout the State and the Inland Empire. "We've got customers from Highland, Big Bear, Palm Springs, Riverside, Yucaipa, Hesperia, and more," says Morel. "We're only just now starting marketing efforts. Our analytics to date reveal that many of our users are finding us by doing Google searches for online tickets. This is clearly a service people need and want."

Lottogopher is currently only available to California residents. But, Morel hopes to expand to other States within the next 12 months.

Game on.

Inland Empire Business Journal Story

Los Angeles Business Journal

Website Puts Money On Lottery. Membership system lets Lottogopher sell tickets online at cost.
You can buy your lotto ticket at the convenience store or the gas station. But an L.A. company, Lottogopher, lets you buy your tickets online.

You can buy your lotto ticket at the convenience store or the gas station. But an L.A. company, Lottogopher, lets you buy your tickets online.

James Morel founded Lottogopher nearly four years ago when he realized that no one else was offering the service online. The reason? Federal and state Internet gaming restrictions require government–sanctioned lottery tickets be sold online only at cost, with no fees attached.

"My specialty is taking an old business model, putting new technology into it and then branding it to a younger generation," said Morel, 43. "With the state lottery, the trick is to be able to sell tickets online while still remaining in compliance."

So Morel devised a membership system, where people can join for as little as $10 a month and then buy all the tickets they want online at face value. Lottogopher uses the membership revenue to offer additional features such as buyer pools, analysis and advice on picks.

Now, armed with $600,000 in new funding from about 30 L.A. and Pasadena Angel investors, Morel wants to take Lottogopher into the other states such as Texas and New York starting next year. The Park Mile company has about eight employees; the investment closed in December.

"We'll go wherever we can fit into that space between the retailer and those who don't play the lottery," he said. – Howard Fine

Website Puts Money On Lottery. Membership system lets Lottogopher sell tickets online at cost

TBJ Now - Powered by The Business Journal

Firm seeks to be Netflix for lottery players
LottoGopher manages the tickets and even retrieves the winnings, depositing them onto a credit card on file. It also gives users the ability to enter pools with other users to increase the odds of winning.

Michael Hanken of Fresno calls himself "an online person."

He's also been a lifelong lottery player. But he's not a fan of driving to the store to buy tickets. In search of a secure solution, he found LottoGopher.com about two months ago.

"There are a lot of scams," Hanken, 53, said. "I tried to find something legal."

LottoGopher is one of a handful of businesses that sells big-jackpot games online to California residents. The legal issues involved in establishing such a business can be tricky, but the market is lucrative — in fiscal 2012, Californians spent more than $1.1 billion on Lotto games, according to the California Lottery.

And with a number of high-profile jackpots recently from multi-state games including Mega Millions and Powerball, it's likely that number will only rise.

The allure of hundreds of millions of dollars in winnings is what motivates Hanken, who moved to Fresno from Germany about 15 years ago. An information technology professional, Hanken is vice president of IT at Multiquip, based in Southern California.

Hanken pays a subscription fee of $12 per month. Another option of $99 per year brings the monthly cost down. That allows users to pay the face cost of tickets for three games — Mega Millions, Powerball and SuperLottoPlus. LottoGopher manages the tickets and even retrieves the winnings, depositing them onto a credit card on file. It also gives users the ability to enter pools with other users to increase the odds of winning.

LottoGopher doesn't take any part of the winnings. Its revenue is from subscription fees. In beta testing mode for the last year and half, it officially launched to the public in late December.

James Morel, founder of LottoGopher.com, declined to reveal detailed statistics on his users, but he said the website has thousands of them with winners in every single drawing.

"We are growing fairly quickly," he said.

LottoGopher also has a free option for users. They can buy a ticket to only one game per week without use of the pooling options.

Morel said the site's bread-and-butter are the subscription options, and while the free subscription isn't profitable, it can serve to draw subscribers in.

"We lose a little money," he said. "We offer it as a courtesy."

Morel said LottoGopher.com uses an automated system to purchase the tickets from an authorized California Lotto retailer. Most of those purchases are made with retailers near LottoGopher's Southern California headquarters, but Morel said they are looking into ways to spread those purchases around — especially to retailers considered "lucky" for past jackpots.

While LottoGopher is only operating in California, it is looking to expand. Morel said there are up to 22 states where it could work. Individual states often have differing lottery rules that automatically preclude services like LottoGopher from operating. Florida, where there is a rule that nobody can redeem a winning ticket on the behalf of someone else, is an example.

Seniors are the most obvious demographic targeted by the site, but there are also younger users who have grown accustomed to subscription services online. The average user of the site is 48 years old, Morel said.

Morel said that while LottoGopher.com is being optimized for viewing on mobile devices, creating actual mobile applications would create another complicated layer of legal compliance. LottoGopher is focusing on making its existing website more user-friendly.

Hanken of Fresno said he hasn't won big money yet from his weekly Mega Millions play, but who knows?

"I know the odds are against me, but I'm not too disappointed," he said.

Fox Business - The Power to Prosper

Buy Lottery Tickets with a Credit Card? Maybe
Some businesses are seizing the opportunity to target lottery players who want to use plastic, but may not have that option in their area. Websites such as LottoGopher.com allow consumers to purchase lottery tickets online, with credit cards as one of the payment options.

While credit cards are used to buy everything from human skeletons to celebrity encounters these days, they're still banned from lottery ticket sales in many places. That may be changing, however, as online lottery sales slowly spread.

Since gambling is regulated by state law, the regulations in your state determine whether you can buy lottery tickets with plastic. In Connecticut, for example, you cannot buy tickets with a credit card. But you can use a gift card or debit card -- unless the specific retailer prohibits using debit. In Tennessee, however, lottery tickets may only be bought with cash.

"Most of the U.S. lotteries allow the purchase of lottery tickets with debit cards," says David Gale, executive director of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. "But only about 25 percent allow the purchase of lottery tickets with a credit card. A few of the lotteries leave it up to the retailer to decide whether to accept or not accept credit and/or debit cards for the purchase of lottery tickets."

That includes states such as Pennsylvania, where lottery officials say they discourage the use of credit cards to buy lottery tickets, but let individual retailers decide which forms of payment to accept.

Potentially dangerous game

The main reason for prohibiting the use of credit cards is that compulsive gamblers could accumulate unmanageable debt. Credit counselors warn that this is primarily an issue for people with poor financial self-control. "Playing the lottery with plastic is only a bad idea if the person allows their spending to get out of control," says Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. "Credit is not the problem. It's the irresponsible use of credit that can lead to financial ruin. Overspending on anything, including lottery tickets, is a symptom of a deeper financial issue that needs resolving."

Politics also play a part in the decision to ban credit card sales of lottery tickets. "The laws that forbid credit card use are generally added as a concession to lawmakers who oppose a lottery bill, but will agree to vote for it with these kinds of safety provisions," wrote Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, in an emailed response to questions. His organization runs several multistate lotteries, including Powerball and Mega Millions. "Their fear is that consumers will max out their credit cards with lottery purchases. Debit cards usually get thrown into the mix either because lawmakers do not understand the difference between the two or because they believe that clerks and consumers will be confused."

Strutt thinks states that currently prohibit credit card purchases will be forced soon to revisit their policies or risk losing money. "The politics slows the lotteries' move into the real world of consumers where products and services are most often purchased without cash," he says.

Internet workaround

Some businesses are seizing the opportunity to target lottery players who want to use plastic, but may not have that option in their area. Websites such as TheLotter.com and LottoGopher.com allow consumers to purchase lottery tickets online, with credit cards as one of the payment options.

Not to be outsold, some states have begun offering their own online lotto ticket sales. In 2012, Illinois became the first state to allow online purchases of individual lottery tickets. Minnesota and other states have followed suit.

In New York, the decision about whether to accept credit cards lies with the individual retailer, says lottery spokesman Lee Park. "However, the New York Lottery offers subscriptions over the Internet, and we accept MasterCard and Discover credit cards, or debit cards backed by MasterCard or Discover -- which we process as a credit transaction -- and we now utilize electronic bank transfer," Park says.

States are becoming increasingly motivated to consider new approaches. "Politics and complaints and lobbying efforts from brick-and-mortar retailers often force lotteries to create new account processes where a player can pay [cash] at a retailer for an account to allow spending online," Strutt wrote. "Lotteries certainly do need to pay attention to their current retailer network, but all parties need to understand that players will eventually demand the ability to buy lottery products online and through their smartphones." It's already happening, he says: Nearly half of Powerball.com's page views come from mobile devices.

Even in states where credit card purchases are allowed, your credit card company may have rules of its own. American Express prohibits the use of its cards for gambling services, according to a representative. Visa and MasterCard declined to comment on their policies regarding lottery ticket purchases.

In addition, many states have instituted or are in the process of enacting rules that prohibit residents from buying lottery tickets with Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, which are used like debit cards to access and spend welfare benefits. Benefits recipients are also prohibited from buying alcohol, cigarettes and other so-called "sin" purchases with the cards.

Press Pass LA - Get What Matters

POWERBALL TOPS $400M, LOTTOGOPHER HAS YOUR TIX TO LIVE LIKE A CELEB
Time-crunch panic setting in? Will you be able to get to your local store and buy a ticket? Your solution: Lottogopher.com

It's a day like any other... A random Wednesday in September and you are probably sitting at your desk mid-week fantasizing about the weekend. But today, your fantasies are probably a bit larger than life knowing there is a $400 million prize in the running for the Powerball Lotto being drawn tonight at 10:59 PM EST (a.k.a 7:59 PST, with sales cutting off 59 minutes prior).

Time-crunch panic setting in? Will you be able to get to your local store and buy a ticket? Your solution: Lottogopher.

That's right, this three year old business will go fetch your lotto tickets for your, literally! It is the only company through which California residents can legally order Powerball, MegaMillions and Super Lotto Plus tickets on the Web. A virtual concierge service, 'lottery gophers' travel to the store to purchase tickets, redeems winnings on users' behalves and then credits their accounts. Lottogopher takes no portion of any winnings but instead operates on a membership model similar to Netflix. (But Netflix never deposits millions of dollars to your account, just saying!)

It is no coincidence the fourth highest record drawings have all taken place within the last 5 months. People want to win, heck with this economy, some people need to win! Recent statistics show a whopping 21% of Americans actually list winning the lottery as their "retirement plan." Don't worry, we know that's not you.

The best feature of Lottogopher is the opportunity to virtually pool up to 100 tickets with other members. If one member of the group wins, the entire group splits the winnings. No more driving to the store, standing in line, or intra-office lawsuits over redemption of office pooled winnings. You know that girl you forked over a dollar to yesterday totally put that bill toward her morning Starbucks! And forget about being the guy that called in sick the day of the office pool. The rest of your co-workers will be sipping martinis on a yacht in the Galapagos Islands and you will be taking a permanent siesta to unemployment when the whole company quits their day jobs (See #FML).

Don't believe me? Their is even a new TV show called Lucky 7 debuting this week (Premieres Tuesday, September 24 at 10|9c on ABC) about what transpires when a group of coworkers win a lottery office pool. If it's on TV, you know it must be legit!

We spoke with Lottogopher CEO James Morel to find out how this record jackpot is affecting ticket sales, "With the huge $400 million Powerball jackpot tonight, people who are stuck at work or trying to avoid long lines at the store have been ordering tickets from the LottoGopher website since early this morning. We've seen a big uptick in traffic today, and more people are using our online office pool feature to share tickets and increase their chances of winning. Everyone loves it when the jackpot hits a life-changing 400 million bucks!"

All kidding aside, if your bucket list includes an Aston Martin One, your own Cessna (scratch that, a private jet), an exotic Bengal cat, a Thoroughbred horse for your new dude ranch, the Penthouse at the Pierre Hotel in NYC, your vacation home in Martha's Vineyard, or all of the above, don't hesitate to sign up!

It was a day like any other, then you won $400 million.

NBC

September 2013 NBC News Los Angeles Coverage of LottoGopher
Reuters

Reuters News Service cites LottoGopher as the way to avoid long lines at the store during huge Powerball jackpot tonight
LottoGopher, an Internet sales company that buys tickets for California players who prefer not to stand in line, says any jackpot over $400 million triggers a buying frenzy.

Strong ticket sales have boosted the jackpot for Wednesday's Powerball lottery drawing to an estimated $425 million, the fourth-biggest jackpot in U.S. history.

As word of the big payout spread, vendors faced a crush of buyers lining up for tickets at the end of the workday.

Bob Goddard, a 56-year-old landscaper from Orlando, doesn't usually play Powerball, but the $425 million prize changed his mind, and he bought tickets in three different stores.

"Maybe the odds are better if you play in different places," he said.

Wendy Grabe, 53, a Winter Park, Florida, resident who works for a financial adviser, hadn't bought a lottery ticket in two years but stopped on her way home at a convenience store to try her luck.

"I played a little extra this time. I spent $30. I hope I win," Grabe said.

The jackpot is the third-largest for the Powerball game, said Shelly Gerteisen, a spokeswoman for the Florida Lottery, which is one of the participants.

The numbers will be drawn at 11 p.m. EDT, and the odds of winning the jackpot are about one in 175 million. The jackpot is valued at $425 million if awarded in 30 annual payments, or $245 million, if paid as a lump sum, the Multi-State Lottery Association said.

The largest jackpot in history stands at $656 million, won in the Mega Millions lottery of March 2012. That prize was split among winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.

The biggest single-winner Powerball jackpot, $590.5 million, was claimed in June by an 84-year-old Florida woman who opted for a lump-sum payment of nearly $371 million rather than the 30-year option.

It's no coincidence that the Powerball jackpots have more frequently grown into the hundreds of millions of dollars this year. The Multistate Lottery Association doubled the cost of the lowest-priced ticket to $2 in January to boost payouts.

"The reasoning behind that was to have higher starting jackpots and more lower-tier winners as well," said Amy Bisceglia, another Florida Lottery spokeswoman.

Jackpots now start at $40 million with tickets sold in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Players must match six numbers to claim the top prize but can still win $1 million by matching five. The odds of doing that are about one in 5.15 million.

Drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and this jackpot was rolled over 11 times without a top winner. The maximum number of rollovers since 2009, when Florida joined the Powerball game, was 15.

LottoGopher, an Internet sales company that buys tickets for California players who prefer not to stand in line, says any jackpot over $400 million triggers a buying frenzy.

"It used to be anything over $200 million," said LottoGopher Chief Executive James Morel. "People are expecting a lot more these days. $200 million is not enough."

He said current sales are running at about 80 percent of that seen last year with the record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot.

Technorati

States Prepare To Roll Out Internet Lotteries
Ted Dhanik, CEO of the marketing firm, said in an interview earlier this week that LottoGopher lets consumers "buy lotto tickets legally in California".

This week, Michigan officials announced that the state intends to launch an online lottery system called iLottery where bettors can purchase lotto tickets on the Internet. On Wednesday, Governor Rick Snyder sought more than $3 million from the Michigan State Legislature to fund the gaming initiative.

Last year, cash-strapped Illinois – which faces over $2 billion in unpaid bills to vendors in 2014 – became the first state in the United States to launch an online lottery system. However, passage of such legislation is expected to be much harder in Michigan.

Gov. Snyder and his staff are facing significant opposition in both the state House and Senate. Many members view Internet-based lottery as a precursor to more widespread licenses for online gambling and casinos.

Secondly, retailers in Michigan are lobbying against any bill that would legalize Internet-based lotteries due to fears that it will drive many stores out of business. Players who purchase lottery tickets at convenience stores often buy multiple items such as groceries and snacks.

Lottery purchases at bricks-and-mortal stores are also accompanied by impulse shopping. Thus, enabling gamblers to buy tickets online is being viewed by the retail industry as a move that will lead to lower overall sales.

In 2012, about 11,000 stores in Michigan were selling lottery tickets which generated $172 million from gambling-related revenue. That amount is derived from 6 percent commissions on total lotto sales in the state of $2.4 billion.

California, Delaware, and Mississippi are considering similar proposals to make lottery tickets available online. On the west coast, Engage:BDR recently launched an online lotto portal in California. Ted Dhanik, CEO of the marketing firm, said in an interview earlier this week that LottoGopher lets consumers "buy lotto tickets legally in California".

Like Illinois, California is facing record budget deficits and state debt. California Lottery seems to be preparing its information systems for a move towards online sales. On Thursday, the agency announced that it is hiring a project portfolio management firm to optimize its data management processes and IT systems.

In Michigan, Gov. Snyder wants to launch iLottery in early 2014. Michigan lottery officials estimate the iLottery could increase lottery profits by as much as $471 million in its first seven years.

Online purchase of lottery tickets is seeing strong growth in other countries, especially in Europe. In Ireland, Internet lottery sales jumped 43 percent in 2012. However, total lotto and scratch sales fell by 3.5 percent due to the challenging economic environment.

The U.S. congress is currently considering allowing states to tax online purchases which would provide local governments with additional access to tax revenue during a recessionary economy.

Time

Buying Lottery Tickets Just Keeps Getting Easier
In California, consumers have a particularly interesting option for no-effort lottery ticket purchasing. As many news outlets have noted, a company called LottoGopher...

It's not like buying lottery tickets is particularly difficult. But because states continually want to increase revenues via rising lottery sales, they're constantly looking for "innovations" that make lottery tickets easier to buy and available at every turn—like at the gas pump, the ATM, or just the computer screen.

Last week, Missouri announced that in an effort to boost lottery revenues, it will start selling tickets electronically at gas station pumps and ATMs this fall. Anyone pumping gas or doing business at an ATM equipped with ticket-selling capabilities will be prompted with the option to tack a lottery ticket purchase onto the transaction.

One might assume that such actions are being taken because lottery ticket sales have been lackluster and it's therefore necessary to reinvigorate the market. In fact, the lottery has been booming, with record sales in Missouri and much of the country for that matter.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that lottery ticket sales were over $1.097 billion last year, which is almost double the total from a decade ago. The state expects $1.15 billion in lottery ticket sales for the budget year ending June 30. For the year to follow, Missouri is banking on lottery tickets hitting new all-time highs for sales, with an anticipated $298.5 million heading back to the state, which "has grown more reliant on the Missouri Lottery to fund public education," according to the paper.

Missouri's test program, which will be introduced this fall at 15 gas stations and 100 ATMs in the state, follows in the footsteps of Minnesota, which began allowing customers to purchase lottery tickets with debit cards at ATMs and gas pumps last autumn. "People are always in a hurry nowadays," Minnesota Lottery executive director Ed Van Petten said to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune at the time. "The thought is it takes 10 to 15 seconds to go through the process, and I think people would say, 'Why not. I'll give it a shot.'"

When Minnesota rolled out its new lottery ticket purchase options, it too could already boast of record-high sales. The new sales channels are part of the endless campaign for ever-higher lottery revenues. In Minnesota at least, a $1 fee is assessed for each ticket purchase at an ATM or gas station, and customers are required to purchase at least three Powerball tickets or five Mega Millions tickets. CNN reported that lottery sales at gas pumps have been brisk, according to Van Patten, and that there was a weekly limit of $50 in lottery tickets at pumps and ATMs.

Linq3, the Manhattan-based company that's behind the technology allowing lottery sales at ATMs and gas pumps, plays up the idea that these new sales options attract a very important consumer group: people who don't usually play the lottery. "You're getting a new demographic," Linq3 CEO Daniel Cage told Crain's. Consumers who don't have the time or inclination to pop into convenience stores for lottery tickets now have the option of a quick, human-free lottery purchase transaction. The concept is supposed to appeal especially to younger consumers, who are particularly comfortable with digital transactions, and who tend to use debit cards for everything and may not carry around cash at all.

Other states are removing the inconvenience factor, as well as human beings, from the lottery ticket purchase equation in other ways. In early 2012, Illinois became the first state to sell lottery tickets online, and as USA Today noted at the time, "it won't be the last."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Ohio just took action that could ban online lottery ticket sales—mainly out of concern online sales would hurt stores, not gamblers—but that Georgia introduced online sales last fall, and e-sales will probably be a reality in Michigan in 2014. "A consumer can now buy almost anything they want online," a Michigan Lottery spokesperson said. "The lottery should really be no different. If we want to remain competitive in today's economy and today's market, this is something we need to do."

In California, consumers have a particularly interesting option for no-effort lottery ticket purchasing. As many news outlets have noted, a company called LottoGopher charges $12 per month or $99 per year—in addition to the price of playing lottery games—and a messenger will go to a store and purchase tickets for you.

KTVU News

KTVU News San Francisco Features LottoGopher
Fox 5 San Diego

Buy Lotto Tickets Online LottoGopher on Fox 5 News San Diego
Lottogopher.com is the first website in California where lottery players can order Powerball, Mega Millions and Superlotto Plus tickets, legally online.

Watch Video: http://youtu.be/_gPxcdMcrek

Roy Spencer of San Diego, plays the Lottery twice a week. That means he drives to the store, stands in line, and purchases his tickets with cash.

Spencer said he didn't realize there's a way he can buy lotto tickets online. "Ya, I like that," said Spencer. "That's more convenient."

Lottogopher.com is the first website in California where lottery players can order Powerball, Mega Millions and Superlotto Plus tickets, legally online.

"We're not the lottery, we're just a messenger service," said James Morel, CEO of LottoGopher.com. "We go to the store for you, we're not offering lottery services, that's why it's legal."

California residents can pay a monthly fee of $12. That allows them to purchase all the tickets they want for the same price that they would pay for them at the store. Lottery players can buy a single ticket for themselves, create an online office pool, or even join an existing Lottogopher group, that would split the winnings.

"We don't take a cut of the winnings," said Morel. "All of the winnings are yours and your account is credited the day after the drawing, so you don't have to worry about losing your ticket or forgetting to check it."

And you don't have to worry about playing your numbers, either. LottoGopher's subscription option allows lotto players to pick their numbers for the next four weeks in the lotto game of their choice. Then, it automatically debits your credit card.

And hopefully, luck is on your side, because Morel said every single drawing, LottoGopher.com has winners.

But some groups that deal with problem gambling say they believe websites like this one are a little too convenient. They believe it promotes gambling.

ABC 7 News

LottoGopher on ABC 7 News
ABC News

LottoGopher.com Wants to Sell You Lotto Tickets Online
Homebound residents or anybody else who doesn't feel like visiting a retail store can purchase tickets through Lottogopher.com.

Those Californians who missed out on the state's first Powerball drawing on Wednesday, which did not yield a winner, will have another chance at the estimated $60 million jackpot during the second drawing on Saturday.

Homebound residents or anybody else who doesn't feel like visiting a retail store can purchase tickets through Lottogopher.com.

Based in California, LottoGopher.com is a subscription-based service that allows state residents to purchase lottery tickets online. Strict laws regulate brick-and-mortar retailers who sell lottery tickets, prohibiting the sale of lottery tickets for other than the retail price or phone and Internet sales.

LottoGopher.com is completely legal because it's analogous to a messenger service, said founder and CEO James Morel, 42.

Because state lotteries are restricted to residents, Morel said he hopes to expand his business in some of the other 42 states that have lotteries. On his radar are states with high per capita lottery spending like New York, Texas and Massachusetts.

The company, based in West Hollywood, has about ten full-time and part-time employees.

Here's how it works. Customers purchase one of two subscriptions: $12 a month or $99 a year. That's in addition to the cost of the tickets. California residents can tell LottoGopher.com their lottery numbers or choose the automated, random-number option. They purchase lottery tickets at face value with a credit card and Lottogopher.com employees go to a retailer to purchase their tickets.

Lottogopher.com doesn't mail your lottery tickets, but you can keep track of your numbers and ticket history in your user dashboard.

"Instead of losing your ticket in your glove compartment, you can see upcoming drawings and past tickets," Morel said.

Winnings less than $600 are credited to your Lottogopher account within 24 hours. Customers can cash in by having a check sent to you or your winnings credited to the credit card you used.

"We do all the dirty work for you," Morel said, adding the company is bonded and insured.

Winnings over $600 require a payout from a regional State Lottery office and must be collected in person by a LottoGopher representative on your behalf. The company then sends a check in your name.

With the addition of the popular Powerball game to California, Lottogopher.com doubled sales with Wednesday's drawing.

Last year, Illinois became the first state to offer online lottery ticket sales, and it's not expected to be the last.

But Morel expects many brick-and-mortar retailers will push back against official online sales in other states. He hopes LottoGopher.com can fill the gap, reaching customers who don't already go to a retail store for lottery tickets.

We're opening the market to a whole new group of people," he said, adding that there are competitors based in other countries illegally offering similar services to Americans.

Morel's customers tend to be young buyers who are comfortable with online purchases and prefer instant gratification; and older clients who don't have the means or transportation to get to a retailer.

"We're making it customer-friendly, simple and modern. It's about making things easy," Morel said. "If you made things easy, you could sell more lottery tickets and raise more money for schools and education. You give the customers what they want, which is what we're doing."

LA Times

LA Times Features LottoGopher for the Big California Powerball Launch
Powerball means lucky times for lottery messenger services - With California now offering Powerball, the online order takers are enjoying a jump in traffic.

Gamblers aren't the only ones pumped up by Powerball's California debut.

Since Monday, when Powerball tickets went on sale in California for the first time, mini-marts, liquor stores and gas stations have been flooded with jackpot hopefuls. And websites that provide tips on picking numbers and list "lucky" retailers have seen a sharp jump in clicks.

The long lines at the state's 21,000 authorized retailers are also renewing interest among lottery aficionados in bringing ticket sales to the Web. But with no such plan in sight, online services including LottoGopher are swooping in to take advantage of consumers' desire for a more convenient way to play.

LottoGopher, based in West Hollywood, is one of a handful of websites that operate as lottery messenger services. The company offers a monthly membership, starting at about $10, that enables California residents to order lottery tickets online and join ticket-pooling groups to better their chances of winning.

Founded in 2010, the site had already sold Mega Millions and SuperLotto Plus tickets. But members regularly lamented the absence of Powerball and its typically higher jackpots, said James Morel, chief executive of LottoGopher. Now that the game has been added in California, the company expects a windfall of new business.

"This is it for us. Powerball is the holy grail of lotteries," Morel said.

Within the first two days of Powerball sales, total ticket orders on LottoGopher were 45% higher than usual, he said. He declined to say how many members the company has but said it sold hundreds of thousands of tickets last year.

Such services, which include TheLotter and WinTrillions, offer a solution for gamblers wanting to buy tickets online. Many players said the convenience of being able to place orders from their computers instead of driving to a store and waiting in line has increased how often they play.

Before discovering LottoGopher, Bob Woodruff, 61, bought a lotto ticket "maybe once every five months." Now he orders 26 $1 MegaMillions and SuperLotto Plus tickets on the site every week, and has budgeted an extra $10 to spend weekly on Powerball tickets, which sell for $2 each.

"It's made it so much easier. I'm in it big time," said the retail merchandiser from Homeland, Calif. "I'm surprised that there aren't more opportunities for lotteries online."

But efforts to bring lottery sales officially online in California have stalled since state lottery officials said in late 2011 that they would begin exploring the idea. Internet sales of lottery tickets are prohibited in nearly every state; last year, Illinois became the first state to sell individual lottery tickets online. About two dozen other states have expressed interest in following suit.

"We've been sitting back and waiting to see what the state decides to do as far as online gaming is concerned before we pursue anything," Alex Traverso, a spokesman with the California Lottery, said Tuesday. "It's not something we're pursuing at this time."

Traverso said the third-party sites aren't endorsed by the state, and he encouraged players to buy their tickets from authorized sellers.

LottoGopher, meanwhile, is planning to expand to other states and is working on an app. The company launched an advertising blitz Monday that includes banner ads, emails and affiliate programs to attract customers.

Members place orders for lottery tickets on LottoGopher, which sends a messenger to buy the tickets from a retailer. The company keeps the tickets and collects any winnings on the buyer's behalf; winnings are then deposited into the customer's account. Morel said the company doesn't take a cut of any winnings.

Wednesday marks the first Powerball drawing that California will participate in. The jackpot is estimated to be $60 million.

Drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday night, with a minimum jackpot of $40 million. Only seven states — Utah, Nevada, Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi and Wyoming — don't participate in Powerball.

Players pick five numbers from a field of 1 through 59, and a Powerball number from 1 through 35. The Powerball number can be the same as any of the first five numbers.

The odds of winning are 1 in more than 175 million. A winner can take a lump-sum payment or annual payments over 29 years.

Last year, when California announced it would join Powerball, Lottery Director Robert T. O'Neill said he expected the game would add "50 to 100 million additional dollars to supplement public education funding, which is our one and only mission."

WPSD Local 6

Local 6 Evening News Features LottoGopher
Venture Beat

Order your lottery tickets online for tomorrow's record-breaking $500M jackpot
LottoGopher is the only legal and secure online site that handles ticket orders, even offering services for office pools, where friends and co-workers can combine forces to increase...

With out-of-state hopefuls flocking to California to purchase tickets for tomorrow's half-a-billion MEGA Millions Lottery Jackpot, lines have been building up throughout the week. Some shops have reported wait times of over three hours. However, California residents looking to throw their name in the hat for the record-breaking jackpot won't even need to leave the comfort of their home thanks to LottoGopher.com. LottoGopher is the only legal and secure online site that handles ticket orders, even offering services for office pools, where friends and co-workers can combine forces to increase their chances of winning the largest MEGA Millions jackpot in the history of the universe (that we know of).

In an official statement sent to VentureBeat, LottoGopher describes itself as a "unique concierge service that travels to the store to both purchase tickets and redeem the winnings on behalf of users. Winning player accounts are then funded with 100% of their prize money. LottoGopher keeps no portion of the prizes, large or small." LottoGopher users remain the legal owners of any lottery tickets ordered, and a "sophisticated system tracks orders, ticket transportation and a secure storage vault."

If you're like me, you're probably wondering how LottoGopher benefits from this service. "LottoGopher operates like the Netflix for lottery," LottoGopher CEO James Morel told VentureBeat. "For a $12 monthly membership fee, our users get access to all of the features on the site and can order tickets for the same $1 price as the store." A free trial is available for anyone who just wants to make a one-time transaction … such as when there might be a $500M jackpot.

However you decide to procure your ticket(s), good luck tomorrow!

Pando Daily

LottoGopher Finds Online Market, as Thousands Buy Mega Millions Tickets
You don't have to be a millionaire to afford concierge services, but those services could make you one — or a multi, multi-millionaire!

You don't have to be a millionaire to afford concierge services, but those services could make you one — or a multi, multi-millionaire!

I was out for lunch with my photographer Anthony, when I caught a case of Mega Millions Lotto fever, which might have something to do with this week's $640 million jackpot. But the corner store had a big sign reading, "No Lotto." God forbid, I walk two more blocks to buy a ticket…

Instead, I went online to search for a site to buy a virtual ticket.

Serendipitously, I received an email moments later from LottoGopher.com, which allows Californians to order Lottery tickets online. It's a subscription service, where members pay either $12 per month or $99 per year to have a bonded 'gopher' run to a corner store and pick up a ticket for you. They'll even turn in a winning ticket on your behalf. I had read about the startup last year and had forgotten about it.

LottoGopher, which launched officially at the end of last year after 12 months in beta, has sold more than 4000 tickets today alone, 30% more than a typical day. It's a far cry from what the site can handle, 100,000 tickets.

"We'd like to get to that number as soon as we can," exclaims James Morel, CEO of LottoGopher.com. "We hope to grab more of the $1 billion dollars sold each week for a big jackpot like this one."

To do that, online marketing is a must. The company is partnering with Engage BDR, an online advertising platform started by key members of several companies, including ValueClick, Slingshot Labs, and MySpace (co-founder Ted Dhanik). They're launching on that platform this summer.

To help build up its membership in the meantime, LottoGopher.com is building a new feature this quarter, which allows members to import groups from Facebook and Twitter to its platform, to make it easier for them to buy tickets in groups. Users can already buy tickets in groups on the site, but it'll be easier if they can use their existing groups. (Because who needs the extra steps, right?)

The company is also planning to expand into other states, including New York. But it needs to build out all of the functionally and back end. It also needs some cash.

"We're making money, but not minting money," laughs Morel.

So the company, which is angel-backed now, plans to approach Venture Capital firms to raise more funding later this year.

At the same time, another company Morel founded, Dr. Tattoff, a chain of laser tattoo removal clincs, is on the road to IPO. It just received permission from the SEC to go public and plans to file in the middle of this year. It's the second time the chain has filed for IPO. In 2009, it withdrew plans due to the nation's fiscal meltdown.

"It's not going to interfere with LottoGopher," says Morel. "I hired a great, experienced team to takeover, so I could start the lottery site. But I still have shares."

Morel started LottoGopher on a whim when he and a buddy didn't understand, why in this digital age people still have to get in their cars to drive down to the corner store and buy a lottery ticket.

"It's a huge market. And since I'm more of a startup guy, not necessarily a long-term corporate guy, I decided to start LottoGopher."

In a time when fewer people use cash for their purchases, that's certainly added bonus for the site, which allows members to buy tickets with their credit cards, something you can't do at a corner store.

By Kym McNicholas

Fox 5 WAWS

LottoGopher on Action News at 6pm
Pop Sugar

How To: Order Mega Millions Lotto Tickets Online
Don't worry about rushing down to the corner market to wait in line with other lotto hopefuls. Cut through the crowd and order your Mega Millions lotto tickets online instead.

I'm sure you've heard by now that the Mega Millions lottery jackpot is over $500 million dollars. Don't worry about rushing down to the corner market to wait in line with other lotto hopefuls. Cut through the crowd and order your Mega Millions lotto tickets online instead. LottoGopher is the only legal and secure site to order your lottery tickets online, even making it easier to organize a lotto pool with your fellow officemates. Best of all, the service is free to use! Although, you might be wasting your time with the whole process — my office pool is going to win.

By Kristy Korcz

JustLuxe Lifestyle

LottoGopher.com Adds Luxury to Buying California Lottery Tickets
The situation has provided some extra-special attention in the direction of a niche, luxury service club that enables California residents to buy lottery tickets online.

With the jackpot of the California Lottery setting at a new all-time high of $500 million, the sales of lottery tickets are soaring. The situation has provided some extra-special attention in the direction of a niche, luxury service club that enables California residents to buy lottery tickets online.

The intriguing grab-the-moment business model by LottoGopher.com, which actually has been operating since 2011, is likely to garner even more attention due to the fervent demand for lottery tickets currently running through the state.

Basically, on behalf of members, LottoGopher will do all the legwork so that its subscribers can conveniently purchase lottery tickets. Lottery winners do keep 100 percent of their winnings. Members pay a monthly fee for the service of $12; a year-round membership option is available at $99.

The outfit is a web-development firm that boasts a sophisticated system that addresses appropriate security provisions to ensure safe and verifiable transactions. The online company reports that it has serviced thousands of buyers since opening its web portal site last year. After all, it is an artful combination of high- and low-tech functions, as the service includes going to the store for customers. Additionally, the lottery tickets purchased on behalf of customers are stored in a vault for safekeeping.

LottoGopher broadcasts the convenience and the security of its luxury delivery service, as well as suggesting that it is a good vehicle for community building as well.

By James Rothaar

CBS 8 San Diego

LottoGopher on CBS San Diego, California News Station – KFMB Channel 8
There's also a new website, LottoGopher.com, that allows California residents to buy tickets online with a credit card. You can choose your favorite numbers or use the quick pick option.

The Mega Millions Lottery jackpot now stands at $237 million this New Year's Eve.

Tuesday night's drawing failed to produce a winner.

One local liquor store was buzzing with activity with people buying Lotto tickets in the hopes they would win the $200 million jackpot.

There's also a new website, LottoGopher.com, that allows California residents to buy tickets online with a credit card.

You can choose your favorite numbers or use the quick pick option.

Mega millions is played in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

Forbes

California's Crowdsourcing The Lottery To Increase Winning Chances
California residents don't have to drive down to the local liquor store or gas station for a chance to win millions in the California Lottery. They can now buy them online through LottoGopher.com.

California residents don't have to drive down to the local liquor store or gas station for a chance to win millions in the California Lottery. They can now buy them online through www.LottoGopher.com.

It's a membership based model, just like Netflix. Members pay anywhere between $9.99 to $19.99 per month for the opportunity to buy Lottery tickets online, for the standard price of $1 per ticket. The membership fee pays for convenience and a user's ability to play in 'office pool' style groups of up to 100 tickets per drawing. Users can also join existing groups basically crowdsourcing the Lottery, in order to increase their chances of winning. Winnings are automatically credited to members' accounts.

It's a long shot to win the lottery, so to pay a monthly fee to 'increase your chances' of winning, you still have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than bringing home millions from a winning ticket. But I have to admit this is the direction the lottery is going and this company is at the forefront. It's only in California now, but it's only a matter of time before other states' lottery programs jump on the digital train.

By Kym McNicholas

Urban Daddy

Lucky You - Like Netflix for Lottery Tickets
Introducing LottoGopher, a new, 100%-legal website that sells you lottery tickets on a subscription basis, now available for California residents.

Black Friday. So it begins. The time of year when your credit card surges from your wallet so fast, and so often, it's in danger of catching fire next time you swipe it. You need a foolproof investment plan, starting pretty much right now. Like a monthly subscription for... lottery tickets.

Introducing LottoGopher, a new, 100%-legal website that sells you lottery tickets on a subscription basis, now available for California residents.

Just pick a monthly subscription plan? sort of like Netflix, but with a much bigger potential payoff than the chance to instantly stream Get Him to the Greek. Then: pick your lucky numbers. And then... do nothing.

LottoGopher will get to work getting your tickets. And keep getting your tickets. Once you win, from what we understand about the lottery, it's only a matter of time, they don't take a cent.

So unless you have a sudden deep, intense craving for a frozen drink that will turn your mouth blue, you may never go to a 7-11 again.

You had a good run, corn dog rollers.

By UrbanDaddy.com

CBS

LottoGopher on CBS
NBC

LottoGopher on NBC