TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Lottery players soon might be able to buy tickets from vending machines.
The House voted this week in support of the move, which the state lottery has sought for three years.
Lottery spokeswoman Sally Lunsford said the measure would increase lottery revenue and cut labor costs for retailers, where ticket buyers could bypass clerks and use the self-service machines. She said 37 other states, including Missouri, Colorado and Oklahoma, use the machines.
Vending machines have increased lottery sales by up to 50 percent in other states, Lunsford said. Kansas is counting on $12 million in revenue growth over two years. Lottery sales have increased most years since the late 1980s, and revenue hit a record last year at $78 million.
Susan Goedde, communications manager with the Missouri Lottery, said that state installed 300 new machines in 2015, which boosted monthly sales at those retailers by 11.8 percent.
The Kansas vending machine revenue would be devoted to community mental health centers and other mental health services.
"We desperately need that," said Overland Park Republican Rep. Stephanie Clayton, who voted for the bill. "I'm vice chair of social services budget, and I can tell you first-hand how dire that situation is."
Revenue from existing lottery games goes to a variety of state functions including economic development and prison construction and maintenance.
The extra mental health money would be beneficial, said Derby Republican Rep. Blake Carpenter. But he said he voted against the bill because he didn't think it did enough to prevent purchases by minors.
Lunsford said the lottery would use machines equipped with remotes that allow clerks to turn off machines when they see someone who might be underage trying to buy a ticket. Officials in Colorado and Missouri said their machines have the same remotes, and some in Colorado require the buyer to scan his or her driver's license.
But Carpenter said it's not always easy for a clerk to be watching or tell if someone's underage. And if a minor did manage to buy a ticket, he said, they could have an adult turn it in, bypassing the bill's provision against allowing minors to redeem winning tickets.
Democratic Rep. John Carmichael, of Wichita, also opposed the bill, saying he didn't think the bill would prevent minors from buying tickets and that he's generally opposed to state-sponsored gambling.
"The state should not be involved in promoting gambling, especially when the state takes a higher percentage of the handle, the wagers, the bets, than even a bookmaker on the street," he said.
The House passed the measure 100 to 25 Thursday. In the Senate, the bill will be referred to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, and Chairman Sen. Jake LaTurner said he plans to hold a vote on it.