FAIRFIELD — The Maine State Lottery may soon give a name to its scratch tickets for the first time, but the name isn’t sitting well with everyone.
A few weeks ago, the Maine State Lottery sent a pamphlet out to its 1,300 retailers, saying it plans to name the tickets “Kwikies.”
“I thought that’s going to be real uncomfortable for my girls behind the register to have guys come in and say ‘Hey, give me a Kwikie,’” said David Welch, owner of Village Market in Fairfield.
In slang terms, a quickie is a short sexual encounter.
“[My cashiers] are very upset about it,” said Welch. “A couple of customers hanging around were really upset.”
Gerry Reid, director of the Maine Bureau Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, said it’s not the state’s intent to be provocative.
“I fully understand that when someone saw this word in isolation, they thought, ‘Oh, these guys are getting a bit racy,’” said Reid. “We’re actually doing everything we can possibly do to not lead you to that place in your mind.”
Reid said that the bureau has been active for the past three to four months in trying to land on a name to encompass all of its scratch tickets. They went through 50 or 60 names before landing on Kwikies.
“The benefit of buying this ticket is that it’s quick, easy and fun,” said Reid. “That’s what an instant ticket is.”
Welch wasn’t alone in being critical of the name. Bob Duran, owner of C&K Variety in Hermon, said he wouldn’t ask his customers if they wanted a Kwikie.
“It’s not the best name, no,” said Duran.
Tom Borden, a cashier at Fox Brook Variety in Dover-Foxcroft, said he tried asking customers if they would like a Kwikie.
“I tried that on a couple of women. It didn’t go over very well,” Borden said. “They said, ‘Why don’t you just call them scratch tickets?’ I’m not sure [the Lottery] thought that through.”
Reid said the lottery thought quite hard about the name.
“Our instant game business is roughly two-thirds of the lottery business,” said Reid. “It has no name. It’s just instant tickets. It’s not like the draw games like Powerball. That’s a brand. It has an identity. It’s an image. People know what to ask for. What we’re struggling to do is come up with an identity [for the instant scratch tickets]. We do almost no marketing for it. Our job is to make money for the state.”
The way the lottery is looking to make money is coming at the expense of his cashiers, said Welch.
“Selling tickets is great, but it’s the girls behind the counters who have to sell these things,” he said. “I don’t need them to be emotionally upset. It’s not worth it for what we make off a ticket.”
One of Welch’s cashiers agreed.
“I think it’s highly inappropriate,” said Kaylee Constable. “[Customers have] come in and joked around with me and say, ‘Can I get a Kwikie?’ I’m only 19 years old and I have 40- and 50-year-old men saying sexual remarks to me.”
Reid said the term “quickie” is used by a number of business in many different spellings, specifically convenience stores and oil change locations. The cartoon “The Simpsons” has a convenience store in its fictional universe called Kwik-E-Mart.
Television commercials have already been produced, but haven’t yet been released, said Reid.
The name hasn’t been officially implemented and cashiers won’t be required to ask customers if they want a Kwikie, said Reid. The name change may come in a month or more after public opinion is weighed. After it’s all said and done, he said, the lottery may not use the name at all.
“It’s not our decision to offend anybody. If we see that’s where it’s going, we won’t do it,” said Reid.