Buy lottery tickets with a credit card? Maybe

CreditCards.com

While credit cards are used to buy everything from human skeletons to celebrity encounters these days, they're still banned from lottery ticket sales in many places. That may be changing, however, as online lottery sales slowly spread.

Since gambling is regulated by state law, the regulations in your state determine whether you can buy lottery tickets with plastic. In Connecticut, for example, you cannot buy tickets with a credit card. But you can use a gift card or debit card -- unless the specific retailer prohibits using debit. In Tennessee, however, lottery tickets may only be bought with cash.

"Most of the U.S. lotteries allow the purchase of lottery tickets with debit cards," says David Gale, executive director of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. "But only about 25 percent allow the purchase of lottery tickets with a credit card. A few of the lotteries leave it up to the retailer to decide whether to accept or not accept credit and/or debit cards for the purchase of lottery tickets."

That includes states such as Pennsylvania, where lottery officials say they discourage the use of credit cards to buy lottery tickets, but let individual retailers decide which forms of payment to accept.

Potentially dangerous game
The main reason for prohibiting the use of credit cards is that compulsive gamblers could accumulate unmanageable debt. Credit counselors warn that this is primarily an issue for people with poor financial self-control. "Playing the lottery with plastic is only a bad idea if the person allows their spending to get out of control," says Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. "Credit is not the problem. It's the irresponsible use of credit that can lead to financial ruin. Overspending on anything, including lottery tickets, is a symptom of a deeper financial issue that needs resolving."

Politics also play a part in the decision to ban credit card sales of lottery tickets. "The laws that forbid credit card use are generally added as a concession to lawmakers who oppose a lottery bill, but will agree to vote for it with these kinds of safety provisions," wrote Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, in an emailed response to questions. His organization runs several multistate lotteries, including Powerball and Mega Millions. "Their fear is that consumers will max out their credit cards with lottery purchases. Debit cards usually get thrown into the mix either because lawmakers do not understand the difference between the two or because they believe that clerks and consumers will be confused."

Strutt thinks states that currently prohibit credit card purchases will be forced soon to revisit their policies or risk losing money. "The politics slows the lotteries' move into the real world of consumers where products and services are most often purchased without cash," he says. 

Internet workaround
Some businesses are seizing the opportunity to target lottery players who want to use plastic, but may not have that option in their area. Websites such as TheLotter.com and LottoGopher.com allow consumers to purchase lottery tickets online, with credit cards as one of the payment options.

Not to be outsold, some states have begun offering their own online lotto ticket sales. In 2012, Illinois became the first state to allow online purchases of individual lottery tickets. Minnesota and other states have followed suit.

In New York, the decision about whether to accept credit cards lies with the individual retailer, says lottery spokesman Lee Park. "However, the New York Lottery offers subscriptions over the Internet, and we accept MasterCard and Discover credit cards, or debit cards backed by MasterCard or Discover -- which we process as a credit transaction -- and we now utilize electronic bank transfer," Park says.

States are becoming increasingly motivated to consider new approaches. "Politics and complaints and lobbying efforts from brick-and-mortar retailers often force lotteries to create new account processes where a player can pay [cash] at a retailer for an account to allow spending online," Strutt wrote. "Lotteries certainly do need to pay attention to their current retailer network, but all parties need to understand that players will eventually demand the ability to buy lottery products online and through their smartphones." It's already happening, he says: Nearly half of Powerball.com's page views come from moblie devices.

Even in states where credit card purchases are allowed, your credit card company may have rules of its own. American Express prohibits the use of its cards for gambling services, according to a representative. Visa and MasterCard declined to comment on their policies regarding lottery ticket purchases.

In addition, many states have instituted or are in the process of enacting rules that prohibit residents from buying lottery tickets with Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, which are used like debit cards to access and spend welfare benefits. Benefits recipients are also prohibited from buying alcohol, cigarettes and other so-called "sin" purchases) with the cards. 

See related: States limit welfare, food stamp debit cards to ban 'sin' purchases, 10 things you can't (easily) buy with credit cards,  Controvery erupts over credit card payments for guns

Rates

View Comments (0)

Recommended for You

  • Tycoon buys 30 Rolls-Royces for Macau hotel

    A Hong Kong tycoon has placed the biggest ever order for Rolls-Royce cars, agreeing to buy 30 Phantoms to chauffeur guests at a luxury resort he's building in the global gambling capital of Macau. Stephen Hung's $20 million purchase surpasses the 14 Phantoms bought by Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel in…

    Associated Press
  • Tycoon's arrest sends shock wave through Russia

    Tycoon's arrest sends shock wave through Russia MOSCOW (AP) — The arrest of a Russian telecoms and oil tycoon has sent shock waves through the country's business community, with some fearing a return to the dark days of a decade ago, when the Kremlin asserted its power by imprisoning the country's…

    Associated Press
  • Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks

    Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks While investors gear up for Alibaba Group 's (BABA) hotly anticipated initial public offering, don't forget about other Chinese stocks that are worth keeping an eye on. Today's Young Guns Screen of

    Investor's Business Daily
  • Costco Stores in Canada to Stop Taking American Express

    “The credit card relationship between American Express and Costco Wholesale Canada will not be renewed when it expires” on Dec. 31, the company said today in an e-mail to Canadian customers. The message was attributed to Lorelle Gilpin, vice president of marketing and membership for Costco…

    Bloomberg
  • As Fed takes baby steps, Cramer's trick for profit

    In turn, Cramer says making money in the market, involves looking at the environment through the lens of the Fed. "The trick is to remember that they speak for the common person," Cramer said. "The Fed wants the common person to make money." With that backdrop always in mind, Cramer says it becomes…

    CNBC
  • "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savings

    "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savingsBy the time she hit her late 40s, Toni Eugenia wasn’t sure she would ever be able to retire. Eugenia, 56, a pharmacy technician who lived in Houston, was nearly $200,000 in debt and

    Yahoo Finance
  • Play

    Citi, Bank of America Offer Discounted Mortgages

    Citigroup and Bank of America will offer mortgages at discounted interest rates to help borrowers with low incomes or subprime credit. AnnaMaria Andriotis joins MoneyBeat. Photo: Getty.

    WSJ Live
  • 2 Key Ingredients to Build More Muscle

    Two key pre-workout ingredients to help you build more muscle and strength. See what your workouts may be missing.

    AdChoicesSPsSponsored
  • CNBC Anchor Calls Out Fed-Hater Bill Fleckenstein In Startling Shouting Match

    CNBC Bill Fleckenstein of Fleckenstein Capital appeared on CNBC's Futures Now program on Tuesday. Futures Now host Jackie DeAngelis came out swinging, asking Fleckenstein right at the top if he was willing to admit that he had misunderstood monetary policy. Sounding taken aback, Fleckenstein…

    Business Insider
  • Beanie Babies creator's sentence debated in court

    Beanie Babies creator's sentence debated in court CHICAGO (AP) — Federal prosecutors seeking to put the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies in prison for hiding millions in Swiss bank accounts told appellate court judges Wednesday that the toymaker's sentence of probation threatens to erode the…

    Associated Press
  • Apple to unveil new iPads, operating system on Oct. 21 : report

    The company plans to unveil the sixth generation of its iPad and the third edition of the iPad mini, as well as its operating system OS X Yosemite, which has undergone a complete visual overhaul, the Internet news website said. Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment. The iPad is…

    Reuters
  • Gilead Stock Is Falling On These Drug Setbacks

    Gilead Stock Is Falling On These Drug Setbacks Gilead Sciences (GILD) shares are backsliding Wednesday on news that the patient drop-out rate for hepatitis C drug Sovaldi is quadruple that of clinical trials. In addition, the biotech's Phase 2 study results

    Investor's Business Daily
  • Margaritaville casino owners seek bankruptcy

    The owner of Biloxi's Margaritaville casino has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, only hours before a hearing where the landlord aimed to seize the property. The filing by MVB Holding LLC in U.S. Don Dornan, a lawyer for landlord Clay Point LLC, said the company had planned to ask…

    Associated Press
  • Play

    What the Fed Meeting Means for Bonds

    Janet Yellen & Co. are expected to hint at their timetable for raising interest rates. Here's how investors should prepare ahead of the meeting.

    WSJ Live
  • Off 20.01% Escape From Planet Earth Dvd

    Off 20.01% Brendan Fraser lends his voice to Scorch Supernova, a beefcake space hero who defends his planet, Beeb, against the.. was $19.99 now $15.99

    AdChoicesEbaySponsored
  • Here's What Mark Cuban Wishes He Knew About Money In His 20s

    Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. Billionaire investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban is generous with his advice. When we asked him what he wishes he'd known about money in his 20s, he said:

    Business Insider
  • Embraer to sell 50 E-175 jets to Republic in $2.1 billion deal

    Brazil's Embraer SA, the world's third largest commercial planemaker, said on Wednesday it booked a firm order from U.S. The deal, which will be included in Embraer's order book for the third quarter, is valued at $2.1 billion, the planemaker said in a securities filing. The planes will be operated…

    Reuters
  • SHOE COMPANY: Our CEO Just Disappeared And Most Of The Money Is Gone

    "and like that: he's gone." This is an actual headline from a company press release: "CEO and COO disappeared, most of the company's cash missing." (Via FastFT) In a statement, German-based shoe company Ultrasonic said its CFO,  Chi Kwong Clifford Chan, has been unable to reach the company's CEO,…

    Business Insider
  • Don't buy Alibaba stock: 'Dean of Valuation'

    Investors should steer clear of Alibaba , valuation expert Aswath Damodaran said Wednesday. On CNBC's " Fast Money ," Damodaran, a professor of finance at New York University's Stern School of Business, noted that he was looking at Alibaba stock from the perspective of a long-term investor, not a…

    CNBC
  • Billionaire Investor Says Chinese People Work Harder And Western Companies Could Face Deep Trouble After Alibaba IPO

    Michael Moritz, the chairman of VC firm Sequoia Capital, is a huge fan of Chinese internet companies and reiterated his enthusiasm for the Chinese market in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. The billionaire investor described the Alibaba IPO as a “major landmark event” that is as…

    Business Insider
  • Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More

    Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More Stocks were firm on Wednesday morning ahead of the FOMC meeting outcome. Tuesday’s rally may have sparked higher interest again, and investors are looking for bargains

    24/7 Wall St.
  • 10 Things You Never Knew About "Avatar"

    After 8 years, Cameron's vision shined in "Avatar," bringing the story of a man's moral struggle between following orders and his heart.

    AdChoicesAnswers ScreenSponsored
  • 6 Things Debt Collectors Wish You Knew

    The work debt collectors do is not popular, and has become increasingly derided by those who don’t like what we do or simply don’t know the facts about debt collection. Too often, debt collection is painted with a broad brush to create a portrait that isn’t accurate, and doesn’t properly educate…

    Credit.com