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'Pump and Play': Lottery tickets will soon go on sale at gas pumps

Soon you'll be able to buy lottery tickets at the pump at certain gas stations in California.
The California Lottery wants to make it easier for you to play for a chance at those massive jackpots. Soon you can buy tickets at the pump at certain gas stations. The pilot program is designed to make playing the lottery "a real gas."

For most people a trip to the gas station means pulling out your card so they can pay at the pump -- but with their card out already, California Lottery officials are hoping they'll play the lottery at the pump.

The lottery folks say they're just trying to make things easier for all of us.

"Californians, we have something to do, we are very, very busy people. So this is just another way for them to buy the tickets without having to walk into the store," said California Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez.

State lottery officials set up a couple of the new lottery ticket-dispensing gas pumps for the media Tuesday for a hands-on demonstration of how they would work, and how quickly gas pumpers would be able to buy $5, $10 or $20 worth of tickets.

"This is a quick 20-second transaction," said Randall Lex, developer of Play at the Pump. "Buy your gas and you're on your way."

The potential winning numbers are attached to the card you used.

"If you win anything under $600 it's automatically going to be credited to your debit or your credit card," said Russ Lopez.

Enter a cellphone number and it sends a text message with the purchased numbers. Which means you don't even need the numbers printed out at the pump. The pump issues a receipt, and the real numbers are stored online.

But all that convenience does come at a cost.

"There is a $1 convenience fee that's going to be tacked on to that," said Lopez.

Meantime, some people worry that buying lottery tickets shouldn't be any more convenient.

"Somebody may have a little bit of spending money and instead of spending that money on something that they really need, they might be wasting it on that," said San Clemente resident Ron Rodriguez.

About 150 Play at the Pump machines are due to appear this fall in a pilot program to test interest.

But one thing is certain: With gas prices where they are today, it seems as though you've got to win the lottery just to fill up your tank.

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