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N.D. Lottery wrestles with credit card buying options

North Dakota LotteryNorth Dakota Lottery: N.D. Lottery wrestles with credit card buying options
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The North Dakota Lottery's recently announced holiday sale of ticket subscriptions highlights a quirk in its operations. Gamblers are barred from using a credit card to buy tickets, but they may use plastic to play one of the lottery's four games dozens of times over an extended period.

Credit card sales are limited to subscriptions, said Chuck Keller, the director of North Dakota's lottery. A subscription allows a gambler to buy a chance to play the same lottery number for 13, 26 or 52 straight weeks.

The lottery sells subscriptions for all four of its games — Powerball, Hot Lotto, Wild Card 2 and 2 by 2. Subscriptions represent a small percentage of its total sales, and are sold directly by North Dakota's lottery office. Subscriptions are not available through the lottery's statewide network of retailers.

Keller said the holiday subscription sale, which was announced a week ago, is part of an effort to step up the lottery's subscription marketing. It provides 10 percent off the price of subscriptions sold until Dec. 31.

"We may do it again for special occasions," Keller said. "But this is the first time we have done something like this."

For example, the sale cuts the price of a 52-week Powerball subscription, which is normally $104, to $94. Powerball has drawings each Wednesday and Saturday, and a ticket normally costs $1. The discount is larger for subscriptions to more frequently played games.

North Dakotans who buy lottery tickets at a service station, grocery store or other retailer may not use a credit card to buy tickets, the lottery's rules say. Merchants may accept checks or debit cards, which take funds directly from the holder's account.

Bruce Brooks, of Minot, who is a critic of the lottery, said the state should not allow gambling on credit.

"I'm just against the idea of using credit to bet," Brooks said. "That makes the state lottery office kind of like a loan shark, at much reduced rates, of course. There is no obvious control of the use of credit cards for subscriptions."

Lottery subscription forms require players to list their birth dates and attest that they are at least 18 years old, which is the minimum age for buying a lottery ticket. Brooks believes subscriptions provide a way for minors to gamble on the sly.

"How many kids under whatever age have gotten on (the Internet) with their parents' credit cards and used them to buy things on the Internet that they're not supposed to buy?" Brooks asked.

Keller said subscriptions allow North Dakotans who travel during the wintertime to take part in their home state's lottery. It also helps players in rural areas when a ticket seller is not close by, he said.

"It is an alternate distribution channel for the lottery," Keller said. "We anticipate our subscription service growing considerably over the next five years."

Subscriptions also may lessen a gambler's temptation to buy more tickets if a game's jackpot has grown larger, Keller said. However, a lottery subscriber is not prevented from buying additional tickets at a retailer.

The lottery adopted rules to allow credit-card sales of subscriptions in April 2006, while retaining a ban on credit sales for individual tickets. Keller said the change was aimed at making it more convenient for players to buy subscriptions through the lottery's Web site.

Normally, a business that takes credit cards must pay a fee to the credit-card company for each sale. The lottery absorbs the fee, which is less than the 5 percent sales commission it would have to pay on each ticket sold by a retailer.

The lottery also would not be obliged to pay a bonus to a merchant for a jackpot ticket sold through a subscription.

AP

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20 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by justxploring.
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Posted: December 4, 2007, 9:38 pm - IP Logged

Why on earth would a Lottery try to compete with their retailers for sales?  Also, buying a 52 week subscription for Powerball does not allow for changes to the Powerball Matrix or prize payout for all states, without giving a years notice.  What are these yahoos in ND thinking of?

    chasingadream's avatar - Archangel 01.jpg

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    Posted: December 5, 2007, 2:18 am - IP Logged

    Why on earth would a Lottery try to compete with their retailers for sales?  Also, buying a 52 week subscription for Powerball does not allow for changes to the Powerball Matrix or prize payout for all states, without giving a years notice.  What are these yahoos in ND thinking of?

    good point....hadn't thought about that

    Oogle  waiting patiently for my jackpot

      justxploring's avatar - villiarna
      Wandering Aimlessly
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      Posted: December 5, 2007, 3:36 am - IP Logged

      Huh?  I disagree with both of you. 

      I doubt if your remark about changes to the matrix is true.  They can simply give the player a credit and apply it to the new game. This isn't the same as an advanced play when you go into a retailer and check a box.  When you purchase a subscription, you complete a form with your name, address and telephone number. They keep a record of your purchase and notify you of any wins.  If you win a small prize of $5 or less, they use the money to extend your subscription.  So that's more money for them since they aren't paying it out, but reinvesting it automatically.  How would this affect any changes in the matrix?  The person buying a subscription isn't buying 104 tickets, he is buying a subscription.  If you buy a subscription to a weekly magazine, you pay for 52 weeks and get the magazine every week. You still get the magazine whether or not the publisher changes the name of it, the subject matter or the amount of pages.

      This is obviously a marketing promotion.  Spending the money all at once assures any business a certain amount of available cash.  Also, this gives the ND Lottery a lot of money a year in advance of its actual use.  If you were a business owner, wouldn't you love it if even a small portion of your customers paid in full an entire year in advance?  Why do banks pay higher interest on CDs than on checking & savings accounts?  It's because they have your money for that period of time and you can't touch it without a penalty.  If you buy a house "pre-construction" you usually get a nice discount because it gives the developer money to invest in more homes and assures him a sale in advanced of the delivered product.  After all, any marketing campaign is to attract sales for profit.  One type of business I can think of that thrives on advanced sales is a ski resort.  Some resorts sell them in the Spring for the following year with substantial discounts. Season passes not only gives them the money to invest while offering a discount, but assures that you will ski at their resort instead of the one down the road. You will also spend your money at local retailers. Even if you decide you hate the cold and move to Florida, they already have your money!

      Speaking of snow, ND gets a lot of it and very cold weather too. There are also many rural areas & I don't know if I'd want to go out and scrape the snow off my car, shovel the driveway and venture down to the local market, which might be 50 miles away, just to get a lottery ticket at the last minute. This might also be good for someone who enjoys playing, but has a difficult time getting out regularly, like a disabled person. 

      Yes, they are competing with retailers, but not enough to cause a stir since subscriptions are currently available anyway.  This is simply a way to promote buying them for gifts or getting a little extr money out of people while they (a) still have some left and (b) are in a spending mood. 

        justxploring's avatar - villiarna
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        Posted: December 5, 2007, 6:03 am - IP Logged

        When I signed on earlier I began responding to the other comments and not sticking to the subject matter which is the use of credit cards for purchasing lottery tickets.

        To tell you the truth, as much as I'm against it, I think we have every right in the world to be irresponsible and buy anything we want on credit until we're so deep in debt we need to sell blood every week just to make the minimum monthly payment.       

        One benefit I didn't mention in my other post is that subscriptions reduce the chance of an unclaimed jackpot.  However, they also track the small wins that aren't always reported.  As crazy as it sounds, I won't buy my ticket in advance unless I'm traveling.  Maybe it's a silly superstition. I figure it's like saying "I'm not going to hit for a while."  If I didn't think "maybe tonight's my night" every time I buy a ticket, I'd probably wouldn't enjoy playing.   

        Okay, it's 6am maybe I can get some sleep.Doh

          Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
          Zeta Reticuli Star System
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          Posted: December 5, 2007, 11:04 am - IP Logged

          Re: Snow in North Dakota, think of the movie Fargo, yah?

          Green laugh

          I get the daily e-mail list of winners for the Pick 5 game in Illinois (there's a drawing every night) and in three years of getting it I've seen two subscription jackpot winners.

          The question about the matrix changing brings up a good point- if the ticket was considered still good, the player's chances are reduced even more. I wonder what would happen in such a situation.

          Of course, from the tone of the article in the OP, it sounds like North Dakota might tell someone trying to get credit for the reamining plays on the ticket because of an expanding matrix, and change the ticket, "No need, your ticket's still good, yah".

          Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

          Lep

          There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

            LuckyLilly's avatar - savy chick.png

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            Posted: December 5, 2007, 1:02 pm - IP Logged

            Re: Snow in North Dakota, think of the movie Fargo, yah?

            Green laugh

            I get the daily e-mail list of winners for the Pick 5 game in Illinois (there's a drawing every night) and in three years of getting it I've seen two subscription jackpot winners.

            The question about the matrix changing brings up a good point- if the ticket was considered still good, the player's chances are reduced even more. I wonder what would happen in such a situation.

            Of course, from the tone of the article in the OP, it sounds like North Dakota might tell someone trying to get credit for the reamining plays on the ticket because of an expanding matrix, and change the ticket, "No need, your ticket's still good, yah".

            When the matrix changes, it's always an expansion, right?  So any numbers chosen within the previous matrix would still be good.  On their application, you have a choice to pick your own numbers, or do a quick pick.  If you pick your own numbers, you most likely stay with them no matter if there's a matrix change (I have stayed with mine thru all the matrix changes in the last 13 years).

            It says right on the application that a quick pick generates ONE set of numbers for the length of the subscription.   So you know right up front before you pay for it that you're stuck with the numbers they choose for 13 to 52 weeks.  I don't think that leaves any room for complaining or requesting a new ticket. 

              LuckyLilly's avatar - savy chick.png

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              Posted: December 5, 2007, 1:30 pm - IP Logged

              When I signed on earlier I began responding to the other comments and not sticking to the subject matter which is the use of credit cards for purchasing lottery tickets.

              To tell you the truth, as much as I'm against it, I think we have every right in the world to be irresponsible and buy anything we want on credit until we're so deep in debt we need to sell blood every week just to make the minimum monthly payment.       

              One benefit I didn't mention in my other post is that subscriptions reduce the chance of an unclaimed jackpot.  However, they also track the small wins that aren't always reported.  As crazy as it sounds, I won't buy my ticket in advance unless I'm traveling.  Maybe it's a silly superstition. I figure it's like saying "I'm not going to hit for a while."  If I didn't think "maybe tonight's my night" every time I buy a ticket, I'd probably wouldn't enjoy playing.   

              Okay, it's 6am maybe I can get some sleep.Doh

              I'm against people running up credit card debt too.  I just wanted to make the point that just because someone chooses to charge an item on their credit card doesn't mean they're running up debt.

              There are millions of us (myself included) who pay off their credit cards every single month.  Some people use credit cards for the convenience.   I use mine to get the rewards points.  I get hundreds of dollars every year from my CC company just for charging everything I can.  Of course it wouldn't be worth it if I had to pay interest on what I charge, so I pay off the balance every month.

              As for allowing lottery tickets to be purchased on credit cards, I don't think it makes a whit of difference if retailers or the lottery commission allow it or not.  If someone wants to use their credit card for lottery they can just go to an ATM and get a cash advance against their credit card, or use one of those &*% "convenience" checks credit card companies send every month, and go buy all the lottery they want.  That charge goes right on their credit card, and there's nothing the lottery can do about it.  If people want to use their credit cards for lottery, they WILL find a way, and if they're the ones running up debt and paying interest every month, those extra fees won't faze them for a second.  The only people this rule prevents from buying lottery on credit cards are people who use their credit responsibly and refuse to pay the fees associated with cash advances and convenience checks. 

              If my state offered this subscription, I'd definitely use it.  First, because I could get my regular numbers for a full year and wouldn't have to mark my calendar every 5 weeks (which is the max you can buy at a retailer in Idaho) to remember to buy a new ticket.  Second, I'd use the subscription because it's an easy way to get those charges on my credit card and get my rewards $$$. 

                justxploring's avatar - villiarna
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                Posted: December 5, 2007, 3:22 pm - IP Logged

                LuckyLilly writes: "I just wanted to make the point that just because someone chooses to charge an item on their credit card doesn't mean they're running up debt."

                I totally agree, Lilly. I think you misunderstood me. I wrote that comment tongue-in-cheek in response to Mr. Brooks in the article.  I was really saying that I don't like people telling me what I can or cannot do with my money, credit card, body... Yes, there are many people who need guidance and protection from their own bad habits, but I don't think it's the state's job to do it.  Regarding the rewards, I use my credit card for just about everything including groceries and gas. Since I have 0% interest for 18 months, I don't even pay it off at the end of the month like you do. The only way I would get into trouble is if I didn't pay the minimum due every month or couldn't pay off the balance before the end of the offer. Even if I couldn't, it would be my personal business unless I stop making payments or claim bankruptcy & expect someone else to bail me out. Then we all get hurt. It's not "debt" to me unless it becomes a burden to me or someone else.  I also don't think people who use credit cards and pay interest are necessarily irresponsible.  I'm sure there are many families who need to rely on them for emergencies, especially when they lose a job or get sick.   

                  justxploring's avatar - villiarna
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                  Posted: December 5, 2007, 5:54 pm - IP Logged

                  (no I haven't been on LP all day. LOL...working from home and just got back on)  

                  Coin Toss writes:  "The question about the matrix changing brings up a good point- if the ticket was considered still good, the player's chances are reduced even more. I wonder what would happen in such a situation."

                  Coin Toss, can you tell me why you think your chances are worse?  I realize the odds change when even 1 number is added, but I kept my 6 numbers when FL changed from a 6/49 game to a 6/53 game and don't remember any announcements about advanced plays being invalid.  It was a long time ago, so maybe someone else knows.  Just by adding those few numbers the odds were increased quite a bit.  However, why doesn't 1-2-3-4-5-6 have just as much chance coming up when there are 49 numbers as when there are 53? I know that on occasion the winning combination will contain 50, 51, 52 or 53, but I just checked the 27 drawings from 9/1 to 12/1 and there were 6 times that a combination contained one of those numbers. So I do agree it has some effect, but someone who buys a subscription for 3, 6 or 12 months might want to continue playing his own numbers.  As Lilly wrote "you most likely stay with them no matter if there's a matrix change"  If a person is more of a systems player or uses strategies based on previous drawings, etc., then he won't want to buy a subscription anyway.  Another thing - this promotion was for buying Christmas presents. So if you buy someone a ticket, isn't it usually a quick pick?  If you know those person's numbers, they're still getting 104 free chances, and they can always buy more.

                  Oy!  Here we go again! 

                    Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                    Zeta Reticuli Star System
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                    Posted: December 5, 2007, 7:02 pm - IP Logged

                    OK, here we go:

                    "Coin Toss, can you tell me why you think your chances are worse?  I realize the odds change when even 1 number is added, but I kept my 6 numbers when FL changed from a 6/49 game to a 6/53 game and don't remember any announcements about advanced plays being invalid."

                    Granted the odds are astronimical to begin with, but, the following would make an intereting court case.

                    A lottery ticket is a contract, at least of sorts (I'm sure some legal breagle here on LP can expound on this.)  Not the playslip, but the actual ticket.

                    So, let's say someone buys a subscription ticket for any given lotto for 52 draws, 26 weeks. After week six let's say, the matrix expands from 6/ 49 to 6 /53.

                    N0ow let's say the player decides to take it to court and says that although the lottery says it will still honor their ticket, when he or she purchased the ticket it was based on a 49 number matrix and not a 53 number matrix.

                    "Your honor, when I purchased the ticket there was an implied contract that my ticket, for the length of the subscription, was up agains odds of 1 in 13,983,816.00 to win a jackpot.

                    The lottery is telling me my ticket is still good, but now that very same game that I thought I was subscribing to no longer exists and the odds are 1 in 22,957,480.00.

                    That's an increase of 8,973,664 in the odds your honor! That's another lottery all by itself!"

                    Now let's make it a little more interesting, and say that our player, Ima Winner, isn't prone to quick picks but puts a few hours effort in twice a week to selecting numbers and says, "All my calculations are based on the previous game. 

                    The last part may or may not fly, but I still say the person would be correct in aying it's not the ame game they subscribed to.

                    And the example is just a Pick 6 game - think of what an expanded PB or MM matrix does.

                    Of course, we would need to get the same (fictional) lawyer for this as for the case you sugested about a jackpot winner suing to reamin anonymous - and then becoming famous for winning such a case, yah?

                    Green laugh

                    A la DVD- an alternative ending:

                    "Look your honor, I'll go up against 13 million to one odds, but no way am I going up against 22 million to one odds!

                    Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

                    Lep

                    There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                      justxploring's avatar - villiarna
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                      Posted: December 5, 2007, 7:09 pm - IP Logged

                      The original post that mentioned the matrix would definitely apply if another ball was added.  For example, we have a game here that's sort of like PB but jackpots start at $500,000 and roll to $2 million max.  There are 4 balls drawn and then 1 MegaMoney ball.  If they added a ball, of course it would make a huge difference and it would be impossible to use the same tickets. I also know where you are coming from when you say it changes the odds, but I'm wondering if the ND lottery would credit the player for the remaining weeks if the matrix did in fact change.  Send them an email! 

                      No lawyers.  They always want 1/3 or more of whatever you win in a case. Wink  Actually, it's not a bad question.  "What happens if I buy a 12 month subscription and PB decides to add more numbers to change the matrix?  Will I get a credit?"

                      I have another scenario.  What if you win the above case you mentioned and your 6 original numbers are drawn?   You can't have it both ways.  If you insist that adding more numbers lowers your chances and that you are upset about it & feel cheated, you can't claim the prize once they agree to give you your money back.

                        Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
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                        Posted: December 5, 2007, 7:27 pm - IP Logged

                        Oh , once you get the refund, you HAVE to play the same numbers...just because! 

                        Green laugh

                        Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

                        Lep

                        There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

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                          Posted: December 5, 2007, 8:18 pm - IP Logged

                          OK kids, if the Matrix changes, your odds change and the bet you made is not the same.  It is in the MUSL regs that changes cannot be made without giving notice to the states with the longest advance purchase.

                          It would be like selling you a ticket for the ninth race at the start of the card and after you bought your bet, they added 4 more horses.

                          Get it?

                            justxploring's avatar - villiarna
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                            Posted: December 7, 2007, 5:18 am - IP Logged

                            I understand what you are saying rwsmes, but I don't think the horse race is a fair comparison.  If you bet on a horse, you are comparing him to the other horses.  Horse racing, car racing and sports teams don't randomly win.  They win based on breeding, the driver/engineering and athletic skills.  Sure there's some luck, both good & bad.

                            I totally agree that adding numbers changes the game, but there have been plenty of wins with lower numbers.  The worst athlete doesn't ever win the race.