Lady Luck is not smiling on some people hoping to get their hands on California Lottery Scratcher tickets. The pandemic has made them hard to find.
The shortage has already cost California and convenience stores a lot of money.
The lottery ticket vending machines, all seven of them at Fulton Square Liquors & Jr Market in Sherman Oaks, were empty. No scratchers for sale. The owner says it's been like this for the past three weeks.
They're not alone.
At Blue Bird Liquor in Hawthorne, they're still waiting for their ticket order.
"I don't have any scratchers for a month. That's the business over here, the scratcher. Because we sell a lot of scratchers, we get a lot of winners from the scratchers, that's why we're waiting for the scratchers," said Ronald Maren, an employee with Blue Bird Liquor employee.
Stores across the state are seeing a shortage of scratchers. The games where players scratch off part of the tickets to reveal whether they're a winner have become harder to find during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sources with The California State Lottery tell Eyewitness News that the Southern California distribution center in Rancho Cucamonga closed on Thursday for cleaning. Lottery officials confirm a worker at that facility tested positive for COVID-19.
The California State Lottery says it is following strict physical distancing protocols at its distribution centers.
A statement reads in part:
There is an approximate four to five week delay in fulfilling retailer orders. We are currently implementing a number of strategies to mitigate the impacts and improve delivery time frames to meet the needs of our players and retailers.
The National Association of Convenience Stores says scratchers, which have 57 different games, make up more than 75% of lottery sales. The scratcher shortage means stores lose out on sales, and less money is raised for public education.
California Lottery would not say exactly how much has been lost.