Jan 29, 2004, 6:12 am
The Texas lottery is joining the high-tech revolution.
Lottery officials plan to install about 1,000 ATM-like machines at retail outlets across the state that will dispense tickets for such games as Lotto Texas, Mega Millions and Cash Five. The machines will not only sell tickets, but they will also be able to scan tickets from previous drawings and tell players whether they have won any money.
"We think the players will like them," said lottery spokesman Bobby Heith. "You can purchase your tickets and check to see if you have a winner without taking up the retailer's time."
In an open letter to players on the lottery's Web site, lottery director Reagan Greer said the self-service terminals should be up and running by August. The terminals will be similar to the instant ticket, or scratch-off game vending machines already in use at some lottery retail locations.
"Players will have the option of using a play slip or a touch screen to quickly and easily choose specific games, pick the numbers they want, or play Quick Picks," Greer said in his letter. "Customers will be able to use cash bills to purchase tickets for the exact amount."
The machines, which will have tickets available for all of the lottery's online games _ those where players can choose their own numbers _ must be placed where they can be seen at all times by a store clerk so no one under 18 can use them, Heith said. State law also requires them to accept only cash; lottery tickets may not be purchased on credit.
The state paid Gtech, the private company that operates may of the lottery's games, $12.4 million for the machines and programmable signs that will keep players up to date on such things as jackpots and drawing times. Texas will become only the second state with a lottery to have the self-service terminals. California installed them about two months ago, officials said.
Weston Ware, who was active in the effort to defeat a state lottery in the 1980s and remains an ardent opponent of expanding state-sponsored gambling, said the effort to make ticket-buying more convenient is misguided.
"Here, the state government is raising the ante on its scam against the people of Texas," said Ware, a consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. "What is so devastating to a compulsive gambler is when gambling becomes more convenient."
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