Minnesota Stations Debut 'Play at the Pump'

Allows motorists to purchase lottery tickets at fuel dispenser, ATM

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Just in time for the frenzy surrounding the record $500 million Powerball drawing set for Wednesday night, Minnesota has quietly debuted a paperless lottery ticket purchase solution at a gas station pump or ATM, with quick-pick numbers sent via text message to the player's cell phone, and small jackpots (up to $600) automatically deposited into a winner's bank account, reported KSTC-TV.

A pilot program began in October.

"The goal of the program is to engage the 70% of customers who purchase fuel at the pump and do not go into the store," said Minnesota Lottery executive director Ed Van Petten when the Play at the Pump pilot was announced. "Retailers will earn 3% from each lottery sale and additional revenue will be raised for Minnesota's environment and the General Fund."

Lottery officials hope the convenience will fuel sales and push jackpots higher, said the report. The software puts Minnesota on the technological frontier of lottery tickets.

"This is the first time in the world this has been done," Minnesota Lottery executive director Ed Van Petten said at a Minneapolis gas station that--as of Tuesday--had been Play at the Pump-enabled, the report said.

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

Stations include Paul's South Cedar Service, Apple Valley; Leroy's Auto Center, Bloomington; Plymouth BP, Plymouth; Calhoun Beach BP, Minneapolis; Marathon Neighbor Stop, Stillwater; Gas 'N Go, Roseville; Corner Mart, Shoreview; Cenex One-Stop, Lino Lakes; and Marathon, Lino Lakes.

Lottery "ambassadors" will initially greet users at to help buyers use the touchscreen functions to purchase tickets for the MegaMillions or Powerball games.

The software was designed by New York City-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, Randall Lex, vice president of business development at Linq3 told KSTC.

Using Play at the Pump 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.

Players must use a debit card to make the lottery purchase at the pump. The debit-card fee for the lottery transaction is paid by the lottery processor--there is no cost for the retailer. The retailer will benefit from incremental revenue, will have access to loyalty programs (second-chance games and offers) and will benefit from increased traffic in the store through coupons, promotions and discounts. Retailers can also take advantage of a free 30-second advertisement on the pump screen that can be programmed on site to offer, for example, a "cents-off gas with purchase" promotion.

Responsible play features including age verification (players must be 18) and daily play limits are built into the system. Players also have the option to self-exclude for a period of time or permanently if they choose.

Bloomington, Minn.-based Lieberman Cos. and its subsidiary, American Amusement Arcades, was selected to roll out the new program designed by Linq3. Lieberman is a family-owned business specializing in coin-operated amusement and vending equipment and ATMs while also operating a large amusement route in the Twin Cities area.