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What are the odds? Company creates 1st lottery gift card

Jay MacDonald

The next time you visit your favorite retailer, pause at the checkout to savor the flavors of the gift cards on display.

If the card mix at your local Target or Walgreens looks anything like mine, you’re just a preload away from 18 holes of golf, a mani-pedi, dinner and a movie out, a cruise to the Bahamas, a Disney getaway or a round of Frappuccinos at Starbucks.

In fact, it seems the only thing you can’t preload on a gift card these days is a chance to win a million bucks.

Until now.

Coming soon to a checkout near you: North America’s first lottery retail gift card.

Last week, Las Vegas-based global gaming giant Scientific Games International (SGI) announced a five-year deal with Atlanta-based prepaid and payment solution provider InComm to add lottery gift cards to its 250,000 retail outlets throughout North America. The single-load prepaid lottery gift cards will be accepted by any participating lottery retailer that has been authorized by a participating state or provincial lottery.

Don’t consider your holiday shopping a slam dunk just yet. The corporate news release on the lottery card launch doesn’t specify exactly when lottery gift cards might blossom on a gift card rack near you; only that it’s in the works.

And little wonder. According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, lottery has grown into a $78 billion industry, while raising some $23 billion in proceeds to benefit worthy causes. Last year, U.S. lottery sales topped $70 billion, while sales up north surpassed $10.4 billion Canadian.

Pat McHugh, SGI’s senior vice president of North American lottery systems, says that although state and provincial lottery systems boast their own robust retail networks with nearly 270,000 lottery retailers, there’s little overlap between those and InComm’s 250,000 gift card outlets.

“Imagine being able to give the fun and entertainment of lottery games with the convenience of a gift card,” he pondered in the press release. “(InComm’s) payment network and retail footprint, combined with Scientific Games’ lottery solutions, offers lotteries a way to reach new consumers who may like to purchase lottery games and help drive incremental revenue for lottery beneficiaries such as local retailers, education, senior citizens, infrastructure and the environment.”

What about the kids, you ask? Are they likely to reach for a Pick Six chit in lieu of a Chuck E. Cheese gift card and descend into the life of a layabout?

Not likely, since the same “You must be X years of age or older to redeem” age-verification yadda yadda would apply by law to anyone gambling with plastic.

Whatever your view of the merits of storefront gambling, lottery gift cards are sure to be winner with last-minute shoppers and daydream believers.

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