Dr. Gene Moore can picture the promotion already: "Free Lottery Ticket With Every Filling."
"Those thoughts have crossed my mind," said the Southeast San Diego dentist, the only medical professional on the list of 1,500 businesses and organizations in San Diego County selected by the state from hundreds more applicants to sell California Lottery tickets when the games begin Oct. 3.
Uncertain what lottery rules allow, Moore said he has not committed himself to any particular gimmick for peddling the $1 instant-winner tickets. But as with others chosen as lottery retailers--from pharmacies to veteran's organizations, to bait and tackle shops to X-rated bookstores--visions of jackpots are dancing in the dentist's head.
"The money is needed for education, there's no doubt about that," said Moore, who like other retailers will earn five cents for every $1 ticket he sells. "My minister always said he would take the devil's money to do the Lord's work."
While Moore and other lottery retailers undergo training by state officials in ways to maximize ticket sales, residents of some communities left out of the distribution network are hunting for places to play the long-anticipated game.
Mesa Grande, Potrero and Jacumba are among the areas in San Diego County that ended up without ticket outlets when the state selected the sales sites, roughly on the basis of one vendor for every 1,250 residents.
The regulars at Bartolini's restaurant in Jacumba were discussing their plight over coffee one morning last week. The closest ticket seller, they learned, would be a liquor store seven miles northwest in Boulevard, said Diana Batey, who manages the Exxon station on Interstate 8 in Jacumba.
"Most of the people here in Jacumba will probably just drive up there to get one," she said.
They got lucky farther north, in remote Pine Valley. Peggy Peacock, a retired San Diego police officer who writes the "Pine Needles" column in the weekly Back Country Trader newspaper, will sell tickets at her Pine Valley Feed Store.
"We've been kidding one another around here about saving up our nickels and dimes in the piggy bank for the lottery," she said. "There's some that frown upon it, religiously, but others say, 'As soon as you have them, let me know.' "
In more populated portions of the county, lottery outlets will be ubiquitous, with tickets on sale at dry cleaners, doughnut makers, supermarkets, convenience stores, movie theaters, restaurants, service stations, clothing shops and other more exotic locations.
At the Grossmont Center in La Mesa alone, lottery officials selected seven businesses as ticket outlets. Four outlets dot the 12300 block of Poway Road in Poway, three more the 1300 block of 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista.
One enthusiastic vendor is Jerry Stapp, owner of Jerry's Place and Card Palace in Oceanside, apparently the only gambling den in the county that was selected for lottery sales.
"I think it's a breakthrough on the state level, as far as gambling and chance," Stapp said. "They've turned down off-track betting. They've turned down certain kinds of poker games that are not allowed in the State of California but are played everywhere else."
Stapp said he could hardly wait for California to introduce more sophisticated games of chance, such as the computerized numbers games that have generated big payoffs in other states.
"There's just untold thousands of players who leave the state every week to play games we're not allowed to play," he said.
Rich and poor alike will not have to travel far to take a chance on the $2 to $2 million payoffs promised in the initial "California Jackpot" game.
Gil Schnitzer will sell tickets at his Haagen-Dazs ice cream store on posh Prospect Avenue in La Jolla. "We don't think we're going to make money out of this thing," he said. "The benefit we're going to get is generating traffic."
Moore's dental office is in a lower-income neighborhood, in a medical building on Euclid Avenue where many of the patients depend on Medi-Cal and other welfare programs. But Moore dismisses the notion that lotteries entice the poor to gamble with money they cannot afford to waste.
After all, he said, a third of the money bet in the lottery will be spent on educational programs.
"And this is the area that needs education the most, isn't it?" Moore asked. "If this is supposedly a poverty area and a lot of people will buy these tickets, then maybe the next generation will see things a bit differently. Maybe they won't have to worry about taking chances on things."
A few nonprofit organizations have enlisted as lottery retailers in hopes the nickel-a-ticket profit will help finance their other programs.
Already, for instance, the marquee outside the Spring Valley Community Center reads "Lottery Tickets For Sale Here Soon."