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A Lotto Trouble : Santa Clarita City Council Blames Last-Minute Lottery Ticket Sales for Clogged Streets

Times Staff Writer

The state lottery has brought Santa Clarita motorists a jackpot of bad luck, at least according to the City Council.

Council members say city streets swell with traffic each Wednesday night as last-minute Lotto players rush to purchase their tickets before the 7:58 p.m. drawing. The evening commute is always bad, council members say, but traffic is even worse on Lotto night.

As a result, the council has decided to ask the California State Lottery to change the 7:45 p.m. Wednesday deadline to buy tickets.

“I’m serious,” said Mayor Jan Heidt of her proposal.

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An arduous, bumper-to-bumper, one-hour drive across Santa Clarita to attend a discussion of traffic problems convinced Heidt that action must be taken.

During her trip, Heidt said, she stopped at a liquor store and watched people line up to buy tickets. Cars jammed the parking lot, she said.

“People were driving around looking for parking spaces,” Heidt said.

She suggested a noon deadline to buy lottery tickets. Her colleagues agreed it was a good idea.

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“I propose we write a letter,” Councilman Howard P. (Buck) McKeon said at Wednesday night’s council meeting.

“Let’s do it,” Councilman Dennis Koontz added.

John Schade, a state lottery spokesman, said the city’s request is unusual.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said Thursday.

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Perhaps, he said, merchants and city leaders could encourage Lotto players to purchase their tickets earlier in the week.

Schade said ticket sales generally increase just before a drawing.

But Schade said he has never heard of bad traffic being blamed on lottery sales.

The Wednesday night Lotto drawing has become an ingrained part of California life since the drawings started 15 months ago, Schade said.

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“Changing it now would be very difficult,” he said.


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