NUMBER’S UP? Woolgoolga Newsagency owner Geoff Rogers says many small businesses will be forced to close if Coles and Woolworths get the rights to the sale of lottery tickets.
NUMBER’S UP? Woolgoolga Newsagency owner Geoff Rogers says many small businesses will be forced to close if Coles and Woolworths get the rights to the sale of lottery tickets. Gemima Harvey

Newsagents fight to keep lottery out of supermarkets' hands

WHERE people can buy lottery products may not seem like a pressing issue but Woolgoolga Newsagency's Geoff Rogers knows better.

The business owner is urging locals to get behind a campaign.

The campaign aims to have Tatts Group commit to keeping the Franchise Agreement for Lotto products to newsagents and not allowing supermarket giants cash in, or face devastating effects to local business.

NSW Lotteries was sold to the Tatts Group in 2010 and as part of that sale all agency agreements were renewed for a five-year period.

That period ends on April 1, 2015 and concerns are rising that Coles and Woolworths want to take a stake in selling the products.

Mr Rogers said this would be disastrous for local businesses across the state.

"It's a big deal. We recently had a meeting with Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser and other business owners in the area and it varied for each business but each said lottery products make up between 45-65% of our income," Mr Rogers said.

"Let's say they decide to change the agreement - that's going to take away half our business and that flows on - probably two-thirds of our staff are here to deal with lottery sales.

"That also brings people in the door, who buy magazines, cards and newspapers."

Mr Fraser has supported a petition circulating all local newsagents.

"If the Woolworths/Coles duopoly is given the go-ahead to sell lottery products, this could mean the closure of some local newsagents and the end of home-delivered newspapers," he said.

"Additionally, it could mean the end of the employment for scores of young people who deliver these papers.

"Coles and Woolworths are already selling newspapers, which has had an adverse impact on sales in local newsagencies."

He said changes could force small newsagents to shut up shop, potentially impacting on the already difficult conditions for gaining employment in regional areas.

"They also have a much lower rate of employment than local newsagents and there is great concern among newsagents that if they lose the sole right to sell lottery products, some local newsagents will be forced to close," he said.

Mr Fraser said it was simple for residents to show their support by signing a petition calling for better protection of newsagents.

"The petition is available at all local newsagencies and I urge concerned residents to sign the petition to show their support for small business."

While many residents will be happy to see Woolworths open in Woolgoolga for the convenience it affords, the point the newsagents are making is that such a big company already has plenty of power to attract customers with thousands of other products and they don't need the boost a contract with Tatts would provide.

It's also not about depriving Coles and Woolworths of the opportunity to increase their business, simply giving small operators a fair go.



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