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Bill circling would allow people to buy lottery tickets with debit cards

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – A bill being considered by state lawmakers would allow people to purchase lottery tickets with debit cards.

Current law only allows in-person purchase of lottery tickets with cash. The bill would not allow lottery tickets to be purchased with credit cards.

Proponents of Senate Bill 528 note that consumer trends show more people are choosing to make purchases with debit or credit cards instead of cash.

“We should get in the modern age and allow debit cards to be used,” Rep. Terry Katsma (R – Oostburg) told CBS 58. Katsma is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill which was introduced by Sens. Alberta Darling (R – River Hills) and Lena Taylor (D – Milwaukee).

Wisconsin is surrounded by states that allow debit card purchasing of lottery tickets, including Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan.

The Wisconsin Lottery is also in support of the bill adding in a statement that it, “will provide convenience to Lottery players as few people carry cash anymore.”

Multiple merchant groups are in opposition, however.

“There’s a cost associated with that,” said Brandon Scholz, the president and CEO of the Wisconsin Grocers Association.

The group opposes the bill as written because every debit card transaction a consumer makes, leaves businesses like gas stations, convenience stores and grocery stores with the cost to cover the transaction fee.

“If you buy a $1 lottery ticket – it will cost the grocer 22 cents to process that transaction,” Scholz said. “We’re losing money.”

Proponents note that the bill does not make debit purchasing mandatory and that it is up to the business.

Other groups oppose the bill for other reasons.

The conservative group Wisconsin Family Action is concerned that debit card purchasing could allow for more irresponsible gambling since a debit card gives a person access to their entire account and not just cash on-hand.

In a statement to CBS 58, Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling said in part, “[The cash] restriction is for good reason. It limits the likelihood, or at least reduces the likelihood, that people will be able to drain their checking and/or savings account to gamble.”

Both lawmakers and merchant groups say they are working together to reach a compromise on the bill.

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