on Mar 1st, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 28 comments
According to a representative on the Postal Regulatory Commission’s staff, a Postal Service-run lottery “could offer the potential for substantial profits for the Postal Service and utilize its current retail infrastructure with its 36,000 retail outlets.” Popular lottery formats in many states include drawings and instant lottery tickets. The claim is that running a national lottery could help the U.S. Postal Service close its multibillion-dollar budget gap.  It could also build foot traffic to post offices, increasing retail sales of postal products. A lottery might bring in a lot of revenue, but would it also bring more problems?
  • A lottery, like any form of gambling, is susceptible to fraud, despite the high degree of scrutiny claimed by the organizers.
  • Lines at many lottery depots can be long when jackpots are high—stretching around corners. Adding lottery customers to the lines at post offices could have a negative impact on regular customers who are not lottery players.
  • How would the states react to the Postal Service joining the business of selling lottery tickets? Would the ability to reach out to such a large audience (through 36,000 retail units) take money from state lotteries, a number of which earmark revenues for education and social programs?
  • Who would run the lottery operations? Is Postal Service management equipped for such an endeavor?
  • What do you think?

This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).


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Sure why not! Afterall, like Warren Buffett remarked
about the "Too Big To Fail" Financial Institutions,
just today. "The folks who caused this should suffer
the consequences!" Folks like Ginne/Fannie Mae too.

Is the USPS "too big to fail"? Heck No!

So before you start employing "derivatives" into your existing business plans, you had better be prepared to manage the risks. Since you are considering selling games of chance on you're property, why don't you hand out prescription drugs as well? Just install
a kiosk & "viola", "geritol/viagra on the run". Mostly because your primary window customer base is 45 and older, who need prescription drugs to offset the sin/aches and pains of their youth.

Unless you are including the pencil/crayon and paper
under 44 crowd who does not trust technology because Mr. Big is watching!!

Which he is anyway, so stop worrying.

I can see it now. Next you'll have a "USPS players club" card which includes a free latte' when you buy a lottery ticket at the PO while picking up your insulin and your forever stamp.

Stick to your plan."We deliver"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Which reminds me about that whole logo?
You're in the postage business right?

When does the money become an asset?

When the postage/lottery ticket is printed?
When the postage/lottery ticket is sold?
When the postage/lottery ticket is cancelled?
Or, when the postage/lottery ticket is budgeted?

Too many gambling options already. Gambling is never a quick fix, either for the buyer, or the seller. It is immoral and the country is becoming a country of compulsive gamblers, and with it MANY social problems. BAD IDEA.

Postal management cannot adequately deter embezzlements currently because the POS system does not have "individual" accountabilty. Lottery sales should generate greater revenue than over the counter postal sales. Why should one believe the revenue would be any more likely to make it to the bank than it does currently?

I wonder if the usps will bring back the workers they removed for buying lottery tickets on their breaks

This is such a bad idea. But, if the USPS was taken back into the Government like pre 1970s days, they could maybe provide other services like they used to. I seem to remember people would pick up their food stamps there. They could actually utilize the employees, who cannot be laid off, by providing this and other social services through the window service.

If they were really serious though, the USPS would go ahead and offer a real incentive to retire, like a full years salary to the groups with excess employees. Even half a years salary would have been more successful than last years incentive retirement deal.

Right now, mgmt is excessing people from their part time and full time positions, and excessing people from the installation. If they timed another incentive, and offered $25,000-$30,000, many of these people would leave happily.

since we are on the early out subject. Can the OIGs explain why the USPS offered an early out in 2003, then turned around and hired thousands of people to replace them? Those are now the people who need to be off the roles, but can't be laid off.

Whoever gave permission to hire after that early out Should be fired for what its now costing the USPS. But I am sure that Einstein got a promotion instead. Because we all now that EAS and PCES is operated by the Peter Principle.

Just add beer and cigarettes and we'll put the minimarts right out of business! Do you really want to take away the little pride we may have left about being a Postal employee? I hope you offer me a big early out before trying to force me to sell lottery tickets at the window!

Go for it!!!! From a bagaining employee's perspective it is a total winner. More hours for the Clerks, Function 4 and maybe more employee's. I dont see why anybody wouldn't welcome more hours to their craft!!!!

Go for it....we need all the revenue we can get. If we are going to really think outside of the box this is a good start. Lets toss in pre-paid phone cards, wire transfers overseas, bill pay, and we have a good base to start.

Bad idea. The Post offices cannot handle the current lines right now. They are frequently long due to the fact that they only have 2 windows open, although they have 4 windows in the building!! Sometimes there's only one clerk at the window, with a long line. How do they think they'll be able to handle lottery customers too?!!! I just recently stood in line at a post office for 55minutes with two SLOW clerks at the window!!!!! BAD IDEA!!

I don't think this would go through unless a change in the law by Congress occurs anytime soon. CFR 39, § 232.1 (f) expressly prohibits Gambling. It states:p "Participating in games for money or other personal property, the operation of gambling devices, the conduct of a lottery or pool, or the selling or purchasing of lottery tickets, is prohibited on postal premises. This prohibition does not apply to the vending or exchange of State Lottery tickets at vending facilities operated by licensed blind persons where such lotteries are authorized by state law.." So, I'm confused as to why the USPS would pursue something that is expressly prohibited by law under current regulations...

fraud?the post office has an honest rep state lotteries have been rigged.lines?have a special line for lottery only.states?they are owed nothing.operations?big problem.any more questions?


Gambling is not permitted on Postal Property period. I suppose if the Postal Service is allowed to run a Gambling ring then employees should be allowed to run a Superbowl board or play Fantasy Football. Employees can be fired for Gambling on the clock or even buying Lottery tickets in uniform on your lunch break. Pwersonally I see nothing wrong with a lottery, but also see nothing wrong with Football boards. But in my opinion can't do one without allowing the other. But as an employee I know the rules only apply to craft employees and the Postal Service can and will do anything it wants.

Hahah, How about a lottery for my person. I need some trading debt to be consolidated too. (just joking)

Seriously though, it could be a good way to decrease debts that the goverment has. People love lottery and instead of throwing it away on other forms of gambling, why not use it to patch up the economy.

Absolutely no lottery please. Lines are long enough with postal services and passports. Next thing you'll want to sell cigarettes and beer and then you might as well change your name to 7 Eleven.

Why not just open the cash drawers to everyone in management and let them take direct withdrawals instead? This organization is now "managed" by a bunch of cronyist crooks whose only greedy goals are to acquire more stuff at USPS expense.
The survival of the USPS is no longer the ultimate goal for management decisions; now the goal is to financially loot everything they can while abusively harassing the people who actually move the mail right out the doors.
Instead of letting the lottery in, why not stop managements wrongful appropriation of fat paychecks while systematically running the USPS into the ground with their insane decisions. Like buying and overpaying for equipment that can't produce the promised processing numbers for instance...
Let's start holding these bozos accountable for stupid decisions instead of rewarding them with fat PFP bonuses they never really earned.
C'mon OIG, wake up and take a long hard look around at managements part in the creation of this financial disaster we're in.

Which reminds me about that whole logo?
I'm still looking for an answer Mr. Big!

You’re in the postage business right?

When does the money become an asset?

When the postage/lottery ticket is printed?
When the postage/lottery ticket is sold?
When the postage/lottery ticket is cancelled?
Or, when the postage/lottery ticket is budgeted?


BTW (By The Way)

Since you upper management folks are into acronyms.

I'm simply suggesting adding a kiosk to the office to sell lottery tickets. You don't need to involve the postal line, even if you do give a out a latte'.
It's called..... a "vending machine", and you're renting your tax free property/space for "m-o-n-e-y"!
Like the money tree you call "stamps".

Not exactly a Wharton Business School thesis.

"Scratch and wait" could be the logo. And, you
might use a snail, instead of a groundhog like
Pennsylvania does. Because, a snail best illustrates the pace of customer lines at many Post Office windows.
It will give the baby boom customer (85% of you're base) something to do, while they wait for service.

Nobody likes to wait, but secure mail services require
a wait. So make the wait less painful. Give em' something to do while they wait. Make going to the Post Office a productive part of the customers day.
Not some grueling experience like a proctology exam!

Maybe a magazine stand too. You're time is valuable,

I think it would generate lots of money. DO IT.

Why not just go out of business, as per your current business plan, and open up the market to private carriers?

The company currently has a monopoly and still can't make a profit? The problem is not the changes in the market, the problem is the business and how it is being managed.

If anything is going to be done, turn to the model used in some of Europe, the post office offers banking services most often utilized by the less off. This is much better than encouraging the less off to squander their money on lottery tickets. The majority of people who play lottery are the exact people who should be saving their money.

If you can't do the right thing business wise at least do the right thing by the people who need it most. Offer services people need.
Thank you,
Jeffrey Dallas Moore

I think the lottery idea could be given an interesting twist that would "kill two birds with one stone:"

Instead of having a conventional lottery in which the winners are awarded money, print special postage stamps in extremely limited quantities, and give the winners the stamps. For instance, the USPS could print 5 sheets of 50 stamps each (250 total), beautifully designed and with a popular topic, and award 250 lottery winners one stamp each. Perhaps the top 5 winners could each get a plate block of 4, of which there would be one per sheet. I would estimate that each of these 250 stamps would immediately be worth at least several thousand dollars apiece.

The "stamp lottery" would have the direct effect of raising money for the Postal Service, and the indirect effect of stimulating interest in stamp collecting, which would also help out, over time.

The Postal Service has always been a not for profit organization established to deliver mail to ALL residents & business establishments in the United States. The have allowed private business to also deliver mail in the last few decades.

I see nothing wrong with a lottery. States & multi state lotteries exist so one by a non-profit government agency should also be allowed. I agree they should have a seperate line for tickets. The winnings should be in cash, not stamps.

I wish to add to my original post regarding the Post Office Lottery idea, in which I suggested that the lottery winnings be paid in special ultra-limited edition stamps, which would have immediate value in the philatelic market.

I believe that it would also be a great idea if the "lottery tickets" were sold not as tickets, but as semi-postal stamps. For instance, if a normal lottery ticket might cost $2, a lottery semi-postal stamp would cost $2 + the cost of a first class stamp (i.e. $ 2.44 currently), and the postal portion of the lottery semi-postal would be valid as postage.

This would give added appeal to buyers, because even if the ticket portion became worthless when most of them lost the lottery, the lottery semi-postal stamp would still have collectible value. Collectors could even use the current 120-day deadline to make first day covers with the stamp, generating a little more income for the USPS, because then the stamps used on FDCs wouldn't even serve as postage.

I realize that this idea is rather novel (Scott Catalogs would probably have to come up with a new letter prefix for these stamps, perhaps "BZ"). It would certainly make the headlines, and increase interest in stamp collecting.

Bad idea.

Personally I think it a bad Idea

Personally, I like the idea. I think the USPS should do whatever it can to close it's budget gap and lotteries have been proven to raise revenue for those that run them.

I don't play the lottery, but I still think this is a great idea. And for those who are gamblers who can't control themselves, too bad. It's your job to take care of yourself, not the government's

Leave the lottery tickets to the convenient stores...the Post Office, IMO, is a place for business. I don't think its fair to have outrageously long lines when trying to send an important document out on a Tuesday night because the gamblers are trying to buy ticket.

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