Lottery estimates roughly 1 in 3 retailers won't accept debit cards

Officials with the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery estimate a third of their retailers won't accept electronic payment when they're able to start accepting debit cards at the end of July. (Photo: KATV)

Since the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery began in 2009, if you wanted to buy a lotto ticket - you had to pay cash. That all changes this summer, but officials with the lottery estimate a third of their retailers won't accept electronic payment.

Starting July 30, lottery retailers will be able to accept debit card transactions for instant and jackpot lottery games. The Arkansas state legislature made it all possible by passing Act 876 back in April, changing the rules to allow debit and check payment for lottery purchases.

Bishop Woosley, director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, said the move to accept debit card payments for lottery games was in an effort to corner millenials and a growing cashless society.

"Less and less people carry cash," said Woosley. "What we need to do is remain relevant."

Woosley said it's hard to estimate how much the ASL stands to gain from allowing debit card transactions due to the unreliability of the lottery industry.

"The lottery industry is so cyclical that an jackpot or individual game can affect your year," said Woosley.

While a third of the 1,900+ lottery retailers in Arkansas intend to take advantage of the new way to purchase lotto tickets - according to Woosley - roughly a third have already said they want to opt out, citing the fees debit card companies charge to run a card.

Woosley said, "They think the transactional fees are a hinderance and they don't want to pay those."

According to the latest statistics from the Federal Reserve, in 2015 the average debit card transaction fee was $0.24 per transaction; lottery retailers only get $0.05 on every dollar spent in lottery sales.

Another third of lottery retailers are still up in the air as to whether they want to accept debit cards, according to Woosley. The lottery made sure not to make it mandatory to maintain the number of retailers they currently have, per Woosley.

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