Powerball ticket purchases while pumping gas? Minnesota State Lottery launches pilot program

The next time Minnesota drivers looking to play the Powerball lottery pay at the pump, the pump might pay them back.

The Minnesota State Lottery has launched a pilot program to allow customers to purchase lottery tickets while they fill up their cars. This week's winning tickets for the $587.5 million Powerball jackpot were purchased at convenience stores, but Ed Van Petten, director of the Minnesota State Lottery, said sales of lottery tickets at gas pumps have been brisk.

It works like this: Customers who use debit cards to fill up can enter their mobile phone numbers when they buy a lottery ticket at the pump. Their lottery numbers are then sent to their phone via text message, and the pump prints out a receipt. After the drawing, drivers get a text message telling them whether they won. Drivers can track their playing history and choose to have winnings of $599 or less paid directly to their accounts. Credit cards are not permitted.

The program was developed by Linq3, a New York-based software developer. Van Petten said developers approached several states before partnering with Minnesota Lottery officials. The same lottery software is also available at various ATMs in sports bars and even at a state driver's license office and is part of the same Minnesota pilot program. Van Petten said South Africa is the only other place he knew of that allows lottery purchases through ATMs.

Minnesota lottery officials have set a weekly purchase limit of $50 through gas pumps and ATM machines to encourage responsible gaming, Van Petten said.

"We're the only ones in the world who are doing this," Van Petten told CNN.

The prize for the Powerball lottery -- held in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia -- swelled to the largest jackpot in Powerball history after the jackpot rolled over 16 times without a winner.

Two winning tickets matched all the numbers in Wednesday night's drawing. On Friday, a Missouri family collected its half of the prize money. Lottery officials have not yet confirmed the identity of the other winner, who bought a ticket in Arizona.

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