LottoGopher Finds Online Market, as Thousands Buy Mega Millions Tickets

By Kym McNicholas , written on March 30, 2012

From The News Desk

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I was out for lunch with my photographer Anthony, when I caught a case of Mega Millions Lotto fever, which might have something to do with this week’s $640 million jackpot. But the corner store had a big sign reading, “No Lotto.” God forbid, I walk two more blocks to buy a ticket...

Instead, I went online to search for a site to buy a virtual ticket.

Serendipitously, I received an email moments later from, which allows Californians to order Lottery tickets online. It’s a subscription service, where members pay either $12 per month or $99 per year to have a bonded ‘gopher’ run to a corner store and pick up a ticket for you. They’ll even turn in a winning ticket on your behalf. I had read about the startup last year and had forgotten about it.

LottoGopher, which launched officially at the end of last year after 12 months in beta, has sold more than 4000 tickets today alone, 30% more than a typical day. It’s a far cry from what the site can handle, 100,000 tickets.

“We’d like to get to that number as soon as we can,” exclaims James Morel, CEO of “We hope to grab more of the $1 billion dollars sold each week for a big jackpot like this one.”

To do that, online marketing is a must. The company is partnering with Engage BDR, an online advertising platform started by key members of several companies, including ValueClick, Slingshot Labs, and MySpace (co-founder Ted Dhanik). They’re launching on that platform this summer.

To help build up its membership in the meantime, is building a new feature this quarter, which allows members to import groups from Facebook and Twitter to its platform, to make it easier for them to buy tickets in groups. Users can already buy tickets in groups on the site, but it’ll be easier if they can use their existing groups. (Because who needs the extra steps, right?)

The company is also planning to expand into other states, including New York. But it needs to build out all of the functionally and back end. It also needs some cash.

“We’re making money, but not minting money,” laughs Morel.

So the company, which is angel-backed now, plans to approach Venture Capital firms to raise more funding later this year.

At the same time, another company Morel founded, Dr. Tattoff, a chain of laser tattoo removal clincs, is on the road to IPO. It just received permission from the SEC to go public and plans to file in the middle of this year. It’s the second time the chain has filed for IPO. In 2009, it withdrew plans due to the nation’s fiscal meltdown.

“It’s not going to interfere with LottoGopher,” says Morel. “I hired a great, experienced team to takeover, so I could start the lottery site. But I still have shares.”

Morel started LottoGopher on a whim when he and a buddy didn’t understand, why in this digital age people still have to get in their cars to drive down to the corner store and buy a lottery ticket.

“It’s a huge market. And since I’m more of a startup guy, not necessarily a long-term corporate guy, I decided to start LottoGopher.”

In a time when fewer people use cash for their purchases, that’s certainly added bonus for the site, which allows members to buy tickets with their credit cards, something you can’t do at a corner store.