Business owners weigh in on idea of Ohio vaccine lottery

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan to fund two lotteries as an incentive for people to get vaccinated is coming with a hefty price tag.

Just for the adult lottery — which will have a drawing a week for five weeks — the price is $5 million.

How are business owners feeling about this, considering the state is using federal coronavirus funding? Tim Emery, the owner of Boston’s in the Arena District, said DeWine’s idea is interesting, but small business still needs help.

“It’s struggle for a couple reasons. Number one, especially for a Downtown location, the office is pretty empty, staffing is still an issue, so the wage rates are up substantially,” he said.

Emery said the federal coronavirus relief funding could have been put to use in the service sector. He said they would have used it to help with their current labor shortage.

“Oh absolutely, absolutely,” he said. “We’re doing that with a lot of our [Paycheck Protection Program] dollars right now, and I know that’s what the program was intended to do, and that’s what we’re using it for. But that will run out this summer, and I don’t see the labor shortage wrapping up anytime soon.”

DeWine defended his position on the lotteries Thursday. There are two drawings that will occur for five straight weeks: a $1 million drawing for adults and a full-ride college scholarship to a state school for children 12-17.

“What’s a waste is at this point, when we now have the vaccine, and when someone dies of COVID because they didn’t get the shot. That is what is the human waste. And so, I’m going to do what I can,” DeWine said.

As for how business is going? Emery says he’ll have a bigger picture next week.

“Next week, we’ll be back to a situation where we have no events — no Clippers, no Blue Jackets — so it’ll be kind of a litmus test down here to see how much improvement we actually have seen.”

Emery added that lunch is where they’re seeing the biggest drop in sales. Another concern is whether they’ll have enough staff when the health orders drop and people return to the office.

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