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Adding up the numbers

   We know where Joann Massaro's Quick Draw players are going.

   The Niagara Falls bar owner says her Quick Draw sales are down because her customers are heading to the Seneca Niagara Casino.

   But what about those who used to play more Daily Numbers, Win 4, Pick 10, Take 5 or Lotto?

   When it comes to buying lottery tickets, Western New York isn't keeping up with the rest of the state.

    Lottery sales increased 26 percent throughout New York between 2002 and 2007, pouring more money into the state's education coffers.

    But that wasn't the case in Western New York.

    Here, the lottery hot spot was Allegany County, where sales went up 5.4 percent. Erie and Genesee counties showed a modest 3.9 percent increase. Sales in Niagara County were pretty much flat, going up just 1.6 percent.

   And sales in  Wyoming, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties actually dropped over the five-year period.

   Some blame the area's declining population.

   Or its ailing economy. As one merchant told The Buffalo News, given the price of gasoline, people just don't have extra money for lottery tickets the way they use to.

   Others point to the expanding gambling economy … video lottery terminals, horse racing, lottery games as well as casinos.

   "It's the casino," said Massaro, whose bar is a short distance from the Seneca Niagara Casino. "My Quick Draw is down I would say $2,000 a month. You'll have six people at the bar, and four of them will start talking and they all go to the casino. It's got a lot of my business."

   "A lot of people who came here to play Quick Draw stop by the casino," added Pete Paonessa, who owned the bar for decades before selling it to Massaro in 2001. "At the casino, you get food cheap, drinks free, you can smoke and [your chance of winning] money is better."

   Do you agree? Or do you suggest other reasons for sagging lottery sales?

    … Susan Schulman/ Patrick Lakamp

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