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Bill would let Wisconsin Lottery retailers accept debit payment in addition to cash

Oct 30, 2019, 3:38 pm

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In an age when more people are making purchases with plastic cards and digital devices, some Wisconsin lawmakers say it's time for lottery players to be able buy tickets via debit payment instead of strictly with cash.

"I'm thinking we need to get to the modern age with modern payment systems, which includes debit," said state Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg), one of the sponsors of a bipartisan bill that would allow debit payment for lottery tickets.

But the retailers who sell the tickets and a conservative Wisconsin group that watches for law changes it believes would be detrimental to families are telling state legislators, "Not so fast."

The cash-only requirement for tickets has been in place since the Wisconsin Lottery began in 1988. 

Senate Bill 528, which was introduced recently by state Sens. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), would for the first time allow debit payment for lottery tickets. Credit cards would remain taboo because state officials don't want people going into debt to buy lottery tickets.

While the convenience of debit cards — whether plastic or on mobile devices — may increase ticket sales, retailers who sell the tickets are worried that unless they are provided additional compensation for being on the front lines of the Wisconsin Lottery, they'll bear the costs of debit payment transactions. Each time a debit card is used to make a purchase, the retailer is assessed a "swipe fee" of at least 22 cents per transaction, said Brandon Scholz, president and chief executive of the Wisconsin Grocers Association. The fee varies depending on the transaction processor used by the retailer.

"The reason we're opposed is that grocers and convenience store operators — and anyone who sells lottery tickets — will lose money," Scholz said.

Retailers are reimbursed by the state lottery for being a ticket location. They receive 5½ cents for each $1 in lotto drawing tickets sold, and 6¼ cents for every $1 in scratch-off tickets sold, Scholz said. That's not enough to cover new swipe fees retailers will be hit with it they start accepting debit payment for lottery tickets, Scholz said.

"They put the equipment in, they do the training, they provide the marketing materials, but we're the vessel," Scholz said.

As for the argument that retailers who don't like the change don't have to sell lottery tickets or accept debit payments it it takes effect, Scholz said that's not practical competitively.

"The fact is, if you sell lottery tickets in your store and I'm across the street, I have to sell them, too, because you're going to draw some of my customers and maybe you're going to take some of mine away," he said.

The lobby group Wisconsin Family Action is opposed to debit payment for lottery tickets, too, but more so on moral grounds. President Juliane Appling said it would give lottery players access at once to all the money in their checking account for gambling, rather than only the cash in their wallet or the limited amount of cash they could withdraw daily at an automated teller machine.

"If there's a problem gambler who is already having trouble restricting on his own or her own the purchasing of tickets, using a debit card just makes life a whole lot simpler for them to get into serious financial trouble, taking money away from the essentials of life like paying their bills, keeping a roof over their head and taking care of the kids and putting food on the table," Appling said.

She added: "When the state is involved in gambling, the presumption is, in order for the state to win its citizens must lose."

Katsma stressed that the change still wouldn't allow for credit cards to be used for lottery ticket purchases.

"I don't think that is a good use — that we allow people to go into debt to buy lottery tickets," Katsma said. "If you're using your debit, you're just transferring the money that's certainly in your checking account right now, so it's the equivalent really of cash."

There's no question that debit payments are growing. According to Federal Reserve data, there were 37.9 billion debit transactions in the U.S in 2009. In 2017, there were 82.6 billion. Another Fed report found that cash payment is lowest among people age 25 to 44.

Katsma also noted that Wisconsin is the only state among its surrounding states that doesn't allow debit payment for lottery tickets.

"I'm sure you know a lot of millennials like I do, and they have like zero cash in their pocket," Katsma said.

He said lawmakers are meeting with stakeholders to discuss the bill.

"Our contention to the lottery and IGT (Global Solutions Corp)., the lottery's vendor in this, is that you can't expect us to lose money selling your tickets," Scholz said.

Journal Sentinel

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8 comments. Last comment 9 months ago by dognabit.
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Avatar
Kentucky
United States
Member #32651
February 14, 2006
8930 Posts
Offline
Posted: October 30, 2019, 3:53 pm - IP Logged

Credit cards would remain taboo because state officials don't want people going into debt to buy lottery tickets.

But I guess it's OK going into debt using cash to buy tickets. LOL

Most states that allow plastic let the retailers decide. For instance in KY some of the large chain gas stations allow credit or debit cards buying lottery tickets and some still only take cash. Credit and debit cards can be used in Online lottery wagering.

Don't know if they sell more tickets with the plastic option, but it is more convenient for players.

    Avatar
    Chasing $ Millions.
    White Shores- California
    United States
    Member #136473
    December 12, 2012
    6267 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: October 30, 2019, 3:54 pm - IP Logged

    Hmm- so purchasing lottery tickets etc with a debit card is a bad idea, according to whom? Why is it that there is always some outfit out there telling citizens how to spend their money?

    What if, for security reasons, folks prefer debit or credit cards? Here's a puzzle: 

    Try getting your wallet "stolen" with both cards & cash & see if your cash is reimbursed? 

     * Voice of Reason *   

     

    People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

      Avatar

      United States
      Member #180549
      March 12, 2017
      187 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: October 30, 2019, 5:11 pm - IP Logged

      It's easier than cash too.  The vast majority of retailers are cash only here per their own policies, not the state.  Having to hit an ATM then buy tix is kinda inconvenient.

      I am the Prince of Thieves!!!

        picktowin's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg
        wisconsin
        United States
        Member #49377
        January 28, 2007
        3645 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: October 30, 2019, 5:53 pm - IP Logged

        I am from Wisconsin. There are a lot of places that you can use a debit card to buy tickets. What are they talking about ? Wisc  is far behind the lottery games compared to other states. 

        I have emailed them about changing our games to 1 off .

        Getting paid on pairs and others that are out there.

        Lol

        They say will let the head HONCHO get back to you.

        Haha you never hear from them .

        Wisconsin sucks on lottery period 

        In the back ages totally !!

        Hope they read this

          cottoneyedjoe's avatar - cuonvFT

          United States
          Member #197033
          March 28, 2019
          538 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: October 30, 2019, 6:51 pm - IP Logged

          Juliane Appling said it would give lottery players access at once to all the money in their checking account for gambling, rather than only the cash in their wallet or the limited amount of cash they could withdraw daily at an automated teller machine.

          I have to admit that's something I never considered. But while Appling's heart is in the right place, a gambling addict is always going to find a way to gamble money he or she can't afford to lose. You can't save those people with policy. Let each retailer decide for itself if it wants to accept debit cards for lottery tickets.

          ... Sooper dooper top seekrit winning numbers: 5 16 17 24 33 52 ...

            Avatar
            Kentucky
            United States
            Member #32651
            February 14, 2006
            8930 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: October 31, 2019, 11:13 am - IP Logged

            Juliane Appling said it would give lottery players access at once to all the money in their checking account for gambling, rather than only the cash in their wallet or the limited amount of cash they could withdraw daily at an automated teller machine.

            I have to admit that's something I never considered. But while Appling's heart is in the right place, a gambling addict is always going to find a way to gamble money he or she can't afford to lose. You can't save those people with policy. Let each retailer decide for itself if it wants to accept debit cards for lottery tickets.

            She is probably talking about scratch-off players because of the instant win or lose factor, but how many transactions depends on the store. Purchases in some of the large chains are withdrawn from the account almost immediately, but may take an hour or more than a day in smaller stores. And if the people she is talking about live from payday to payday, they probably don't have more than a ATM withdrawal limit.

            The retailers will decide if they want to accept debit or credit cards for lottery purchases. Besides if becomes a "cards only" business, they won't have the cash to  payoff the winners.

              KY Floyd's avatar - lysol avatar.jpg
              NY
              United States
              Member #23834
              October 16, 2005
              4250 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: October 31, 2019, 4:49 pm - IP Logged

              "But I guess it's OK going into debt using cash to buy tickets."

              You may have already gone into debt to get the cash, but when you pay in cash you're not going in to debt by buying the tickets, and that's what the specific line the lottery doesn't want to cross.  If they were actually worried about players going into debt by buying tickets they could stop selling tickets, skim less off the top, and/or stop the pie in the sky advertising that's intended to convnce people they've got a realistic chance of turning a profit.

              "Having to hit an ATM then buy tix is kinda inconvenient."

              Right? At the place I'm most likely to buy tickets I'd have to take the ATM card out of my wallet, walk 12 feet to the ATM, withdraw the money, and then walk all the way back to the register (assuming I was dumb enough to go to the register first).  Or I could just use my credit card to buy a store gift card and then use the gift card exactly like cash.

              "while Appling's heart is in the right place"

              Is it?  Among the other conservative goals of Wisconsin Family Action is "religious freedom", but I'm pretty sure the real goal here is to push their own religious opposition on to the rest of the public by opposing changes that might make it easier to buy tickets. Much like the religious basis for prohibiting retail sales of alcohol on (parts of) Sunday, not letting people use various forms of electronic payment is really just discrimination against those who don't plan ahead without changing th ebehavior of those who do plan ahead.

                Avatar
                wisconsin
                United States
                Member #130750
                July 23, 2012
                221 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: November 1, 2019, 12:10 am - IP Logged

                I am from Wisconsin. There are a lot of places that you can use a debit card to buy tickets. What are they talking about ? Wisc  is far behind the lottery games compared to other states. 

                I have emailed them about changing our games to 1 off .

                Getting paid on pairs and others that are out there.

                Lol

                They say will let the head HONCHO get back to you.

                Haha you never hear from them .

                Wisconsin sucks on lottery period 

                In the back ages totally !!

                Hope they read this

                Yup, the place I buy allows it.