Minn. Debuts Lottery Sales at Gas Station Pumps, ATMs

Updated: 11/28/2012 1:50 PM KSTP.com By: Mark Albert

Just in time for the frenzy surrounding the record $500 million Powerball drawing set for Wednesday night, Minnesota has quietly debuted a lottery ticket for the 21st century: a paperless purchase at a gas station pump or ATM, with quick-pick numbers sent via text message to your cell phone, and small jackpots automatically deposited into your bank account.

No more forgetting to check those numbers.

No more losing the lottery slip.

No more waiting in line.

"It's a busy world," said Minnesota Lottery Executive Director Ed Van Petten, "so this is an attempt to reach that person."

Lottery officials hope the convenience alone will fuel sales and push jackpots even higher. If nothing else, the Play at the Pump software puts Minnesota on the technological frontier of lottery tickets.

"This is the first time in the world this has been done," Van Petten declared at a Minneapolis gas station, one of nine that, as of Tuesday, had been Play at the Pump-enabled.

The pilot project will eventually include a dozen gas stations and 27 ATMs, which are placed in bars, restaurants, and even a DMV location.

Lottery "ambassadors" will intially greet users at gas stations and ATM locations to help buyers use the touch-screen functions to purchase tickets for the MegaMillions or Powerball games.

The software was designed by New York-based firm Linq3, whose founders noticed people waiting in long lines for a chance to buy a ticket for big jackpots.

"The paper lottery ticket is no more, when you purchase either ATM or on the gas pumps," and neither are lines, explained Randall Lex, vice president of business development at Linq3.

Using a touch-screen pump or ATM requires a debit card and PIN, along with a driver's license and cell phone number, to allow the quick-pick numbers to be sent via text message. There is a three-ticket minimum purchase and a $1 service fee.

"We will text you when you win," said David Tashjian, one of Linq3's co-founders.

It's a system that can help you beat the lines, but not the odds.

When asked whether the system too easily encouraged gambling, Tashjian replied: "We actually have a $50 (weekly) limit. We (also) actually allow you to exempt your card, so if you are a problem gambler, you can exempt your card from play."