Lawmaker wins $8,888 in lottery

Friday, March 8, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- There's no law against being lucky in Missouri -- and one legislator is thankful for that.

Rep. Don Koller, D-Summersville, recently won $8,888 in the Missouri Lottery's "Crazy 8's" game from a scratch-off ticket he purchased at the grocery store he owns.

The game requires a player to scratch a thin film to reveal a potential prize ranging from $8 to the maximum $8,888 won by Koller. While there is no law against Koller's victory, there almost was.

Lawmakers last year considered legislation that would have prevented employees from buying lottery tickets at their businesses.

Sen. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis, a former House member who proposed the bill, said the Koller situation would have posed a dilemma had the bill passed a year ago.

Feb. 17 winner

"If he receives a salary, I guess that would make him an employee. It's a really interesting situation," he said. Kennedy, who won a special Senate election late last year, said he has no plans to revive the bill this year. But he still sees a need for it.

"It's hard for a store owner to say to an employee without some legislation that they can't buy a ticket," Kennedy said. "You can always make it a policy, but without something that doesn't have a penalty, I think it would be hard for the store owner to enforce it."

Koller, who won his prize Feb. 17, said anyone of legal age who wants to scratch a ticket -- including store employees -- should be able to do so.

"Their money is as good as anybody else's," Koller said. "As long as they're legal age, anybody who wants to put the buck in the machine and play it should be able to."

Koller, who has owned Koller Foodex for 32 years, said he buys about 30 scratch-off lottery tickets a week. Because players often scratch their lottery tickets immediately after buying them, Koller knows which type of games have had recent winners and that have not. He buys tickets in the games that he thinks are due for a big win.

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