Bill would allow lottery ticket sales at gas pumps, ATMs

Florida legislators are moving forward with a bill that would allow lottery tickets to be sold anywhere you can swipe a credit card, including gas pumps and ATMs.

"Under this bill, you could get your Powerball, Mega Millions and Florida Lotto tickets at the gas pump," said the bill's sponsor, State Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo). "It will generate new money for education without expenditure of taxpayer dollars."

But there is a cost in allowing lotto tickets to be bought on credit cards, according to Brian Kongsvik of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.

"Now they can't avoid it," he said. "Now those people who were able to pay at the pump and never go into the store to be tempted, it's right there."

To him, the state would be shoving an addiction in people's faces.

"They get high off gambling," he said. "The brain activity is the same as if they are high on cocaine."

The council takes 6,000 calls for gambling addiction help a year.

"There is no end to the damage this addiction can cause people," Kongsvik said.

On Tuesday, a House business committee moved the bill forward.

"For the responsible consumer, it's about convenience," said State Rep. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg). "For the irresponsible consumer, they're going to be irresponsible anyway."

Raschein said she's open to considering limits on how often and how much money could be spent from the same credit card, as well as how clerks would monitor the age of those buying lottery tickets by cards.

"With technology, I believe the possibilities are endless," she said. "In other states, the technology does exist."

In Florida, the three biggest gambling addictions that lead people to get help are cards, casino slots, and the lottery.

October was the biggest month in lotto history, with $471 million in tickets sold, with a quarter of that going to the state education fund.