Those who buy lottery tickets in Arkansas will soon be able to purchase them with the personal identification numbers associated with their debit cards instead of cash only. A new law allowing retailers to accept debit cards takes effect Aug. 1, but retailers are not required to accept debit cards and some say they won’t because the law requires them to pay costs and fees.
Some Pine Bluff retailers said they will be taking advantage of the new law. Murphy USA gas station at 5601 S. Olive St. sells lottery tickets and will start allowing customers to use debit cards to purchase them on Aug. 1, Murphy USA employee Michael Hawkins said.
“From my understanding, you have people from Texas and other states coming by,” Hawkins said. “They will be confused if they cannot use debit cards to buy lottery tickets. A lot of people do not carry much cash. They are paying by debit card and credit card.”
Valero’s gas station/Jean’s Food Store at 2317 West 28th Ave. is in a similar position. Cashier Danette Hawkins said her employer sells lottery tickets and received a letter from the Arkansas Lottery Commission about the impending change in state law. This business is about to get new gas pumps and will start accepting debit cards on the purchase of lottery tickets during the second week of August, she said.
An employee of Oak Park Liquor Store at 3108 W. 28th Ave. in Pine Bluff said the employer sells lottery tickets but will not allow customers to use a debit card to buy them. E-Z Mart Stores Inc. CEO Sonja Yates Hubbard said that the chain’s 85 Arkansas retailers won’t accept debit cards because the fees are more than the 5 percent commission on ticket sales.
Jamie Clark, manager of Y&E Superstop in Bryant, said she believes the store will accept debit cards because Interstate 30 travelers who stop at the store expect to pay with debit cards because they’re allowed in some other states. Retailers may also accept other non-cash, non-deferred forms of payment such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet apps, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery said in a press release. The act does not allow for lottery purchases with credit cards or checks, the Lottery said in a press release.
Jane Collins of Star City bought $20 worth of lottery scratchers Friday afternoon at a gas station on Olive Street in Pine Bluff. She said she is looking forward to being able to use her debit card in the near future.
“I don’t always carry cash,” Collins said. “It’s not safe to carry a lot of cash around. I always buy about $20 a week in tickets. It will be a nice convenience to be able to use my debit card.”
The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery beat projections for June and has come in well over budget for its fiscal year scholarship reserve, according to a new report released to the Arkansas Legislature’s Lottery Oversight Committee. While budgeting for $80.9 million, the lottery actually made $85,277,000 in total proceeds for fiscal year 2016-2017, a difference of more than $4.3 million. In fact, just the month of June exceeded projections for proceeds by more than $900,000.
“There’s always room for improvement, but we’re obviously pleased with these numbers,” Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said.
Larry Walther, director of the Department of Finance and Administration, which has overseen the lottery since 2015, said, “Keeping it fun for our players while maximizing the revenue for Arkansas college scholarships is our focus. These are great numbers. Simply put, this report is good news for any Arkansas student hoping to be awarded a lottery-funded scholarship.”
Since lottery sales started in 2009, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has provided nearly $2.3 billion in prizes to players, and more than $195 million in commissions to lottery retailers. The lottery has provided nearly $700 million for more than 235,000 scholarships in the state since it began. More than 92 cents of every dollar of lottery revenue goes to prizes, scholarships, retailer commissions, and other expenses in Arkansas.
Pine Bluff Commercial staff reporter David Hutter contributed to this report.