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Education, players benefit from Oklahoma Lottery modernizations signed by governor

More Oklahoma Lottery improvements became law this year, including a bill projected to increase education funding by up to $6.5 million a year by allowing lottery tickets to be bought with debit cards.

Senate Bill 1303, by Senate Assistant Majority Floor Leader Eddie Fields and Rep. Chad Caldwell, modernizes lottery player convenience by allowing debit card purchases of lottery tickets at lottery retailers. The bill was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday.

“This is a modernization effort that players have wanted for years, and I’m excited that the Legislature responded favorably to these common-sense improvements to help bring additional funding to schools,” said Fields, R - Wynona.

Nationally, studies have found annual debit card transaction volumes have been climbing while cash withdrawals via ATMs have been decreasing. An estimated 80 percent of U.S. transactions are now cashless.

“We live in an increasingly cash-free world as already recognized by a majority of state lotteries which allow debit card sales,” said Caldwell, R-Enid.

Embracing consumer shifts to non-cash payments is necessary to carry out growth initiatives to maximize dollars raised by the lottery for education in Oklahoma. The lottery projects the debit card option will grow sales and cause an increase in funds sent to education of $3.5 million to $6.5 million a year.

“Having a cash-only requirement means the Oklahoma Lottery isn’t as convenient to players and retailers as it could be. Adding a debit card option brings us in line with other lotteries and gives our players their preferred payment option,” said Jay Finks, director of marketing and administration at the Oklahoma Lottery.

SB 1303 only authorizes debit card sales of lottery tickets; it does not authorize credit card sales.

The bill comes after the Legislature last year passed and the governor signed HB 1837, which sends more lottery revenue to education by allowing the lottery to offer larger payouts that improve sales and ultimately send more money to public schools.

With HB 1837 in effect, lottery sales are already up 46 percent this year, which is projected to produce an increase of at least $13 million, or 20 percent, in the lottery’s contribution to education next year. The lottery is on track to deliver on its projection of sending $110 million in new funds to education in the next five years. Since its inception, the Oklahoma Lottery has sent $841 million to education.

“Last year’s bill is working like a charm, and the efforts the Legislature took this year will build on that progress,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang.

In addition to SB 1303, the Legislature this year also sent the governor two other lottery improvement bills, SB 1134 and HB 3538, that were signed into law. All three bills take effect Nov. 1.

HB 3538, by Caldwell and Fields, allows second chance drawings to be redeemed online instead of only by mail or in person, as required today.

SB 1134, by Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, and Osborn, enhances security efforts to maintain the integrity of lottery games.

“The Legislature has made recent improvements to the lottery for the sake of our schools, and we need to continue to do that as we look to maximize limited government resources,” said Fields. “As the husband of an educator, I was proud to work on legislation that, without raising taxes, will provide some much-needed additional funding to our public schools with commonsense changes consumers want and other lotteries already have.”

Contact info
: Sen. Fields: (405) 521-5581