Pa. Lottery testing credit-card sales

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – The next time you buy a lottery ticket at select stores, you could pay with your debit or credit card.

The choice currently is up to retailers, but Pennsylvania Lottery officials for the first time are asking select stores to test credit and debit card payments.

Drew Svitko, executive director of the Pennsylvania Lottery, said players can pay with plastic instead of paper at all nine Smoker’s Express stores.

“It’s a very expensive proposition and if we’re going to continue to fund programs for older Pennsylvanians, we have to be cognizant of those costs,” Svitko said. “This is really a test, one, of the technology and, two, of the financial model.”

Svitko said it’s a response to an increasingly cashless society. He said about 60 percent of us have less than $20 cash in our pockets.

“We hope that this is going to attract a new type of lottery player. People that don’t normally play the lottery may not do so because they don’t have cash in their pocket,” he said.

Amie Bair, a supervisor at Smoker’s Express, said she’s seeing those results. The Carlisle store sold $800 in the first day alone.

“It’s definitely progressing as the week’s going on,” Bair said. “More people are learning about it. More people are coming because of it.”

James Snyder is a therapist licensed to work with gambling addicts. He said no cash should mean no play. Snyder fears that using credit cards for lottery tickets will increase the chances of an addict going broke.

“One of the biggest triggers for gamblers is access to money, having money in their pockets,” Snyder said. “They have a credit card, they’re just going to add to the problem. They’re going to run up their credit cards.”

Svitko said that’s not the intention.

“We provide resources for people if they think they have a problem, and we really encourage our players to play responsibly and only within their means,” he said.

Svitko said the Lottery will test the program for three to six months, then they’ll evaluate whether or not they want to expand it.

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