Excitement is building. The $540 million Mega Millions jackpot brought out a huge crowd at the Gold Ranch Casino off of Exit 2. For folks in Reno and Sparks, this is the closest place for them to play the California Lottery.
Gold Ranch general manager Tom MacIntosh says he's used to seeing huge lines when lottery jackpots start to hit $100 million. But he's never seen crowds as large as this week. He says it's the idea that this is the largest Mega Millions jackpot in U.S. history that has people willing to brave the parking and the long lines just to get a ticket.
It was a struggle just to get off of I-80 westbound and into the Gold Ranch parking lot to get in line. And if you found parking, you could already consider yourself "lucky."
After parking, Jon Smee said he waited in line for two hours. When he got up to the front at the little lottery station, he bought $670 worth of Mega Millions tickets.
"I have a lot of friends," he said.
The general manager of the Gold Ranch casino says he thinks the little lottery shop is due for a win. The last time this place sold a winning lottery ticket worth a huge jackpot was more than a decade ago. Tom MacIntosh says he believes it was a Super Lotto ticket worth about $9 million. If they sell a winning ticket this time around, the casino's cut would be significantly larger.
The Gold Ranch Casino's lottery station will be open on Friday at 9am. Normally, they stop selling tickets at 8pm, but with the drawing on Friday at 8pm, they will stop selling Mega Millions tickets about an hour earlier.