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Will More Lotteries Go Cashless?

Lottery tickets in many states require payment in cash, but some states are considering changing that to accept credit or debit cards.
December 23, 2016

​BOSTON – In many states, you can pay for your gas, snacks and drinks at a convenience store with a credit or debit card, but you can’t buy lottery tickets. Some states are looking into removing the cash-only payment option for lottery tickets, the Boston Globe reports.

According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, lottery revenue has stagnated in many states, falling 16% between 2008 and 2015. The lower revenue has increased pressure on lottery officials to make buying tickets easier. Currently, fewer than half of the states with lotteries let customers purchase tickets with credit cards.

“If lotteries do not adapt, I would argue they will continue to lose market share,” said Michael Sweeney, executive director of the Massachusetts State Lottery. But Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg disagreed with changing how residents buy tickets. “I hope we are not going down the slippery slope of a cashless society in which more people are living on credit cards and getting into greater debt,” she said.

The Michigan lottery has started offering retailers an extra 1% commission if they meet sales goals and let customers buy tickets with plastic. The Pennsylvania lottery is testing even higher premiums to get merchants to allow for credit card purchases. In addition, other states are playing with online lottery games that accept credit cards.

“Lotteries across the country, maybe not surprisingly, have been slow to adapt to not only the changes in technology but also to the revolution that is being led by average men and women on the street, regardless of their demographic background and specifics of shopping through e-commerce and engaging in a cashless society,” Sweeney said.