ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missourians soon could pick up a lottery ticket while they are gassing up or getting cash from the ATM.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that (http://bit.ly/1aIFqGR ) the Missouri Lottery plans to begin sales of Powerball and Mega Millions tickets at 150 pumps at 15 gas stations and through 100 ATMs. Officials have not decided on the locations for the gas stations but plan to equip ATMs in the St. Louis and Kansas City region. The program could be expanded depending upon how it goes.
Under the proposal, motorists would see the option of purchasing a lottery ticket at the pump and could buy an electronic or receipt-printed ticket when they pay with a debit card for fuel. Payouts for less than $600 would go directly on the person's debit card.
Judy Gehrke, the lottery's chief financial officer, said officials already have seen significant interest. She said convenience stores would not be required to offer ticket sales at gas pumps. During a recent presentation about the program, the state Lottery Commission indicated its goals. "Attract players that have never played lottery. Nonplayers become frequent players. Frequent players become regular in-store customers."
Efforts to encourage lottery ticket sales come amid growing expectations factored into Missouri's budget. The state spending plan taking effect July 1 anticipates that the Missouri Lottery will transfer $298.5 million to state coffers. Lottery officials said they are on track to transfer $288.5 million back to the state during the current year's budget that ends June 30.
Missouri lawmakers for upcoming year also have approved an additional $4 million to promote the lottery.
Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, said during a hearing earlier this year that boosting funding for lottery advertising would take money away from other state programs. Plus, he said that making it easier to buy lottery tickets would encourage Missourians to spend their limited resources.
"Sometimes you have to look at things beyond the return," Schaaf said.
Minnesota also sells electronic lottery tickets at gas station pumps and ATMs. Lottery officials there said the program started in November and is running smoothly.
"The technology seems to be working very well," said Minnesota State Lottery Executive Director Ed Van Petten. "It's not a ton of sales, but everything's working appropriately."
Van Petten said some Minnesota convenience stores initially had raised concerns that selling lottery tickets at pumps would discourage people from going into the store but that the preliminary analysis of the program showed increase foot traffic.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com