Nebraska Lottery officials want to sell tickets via vending machines


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LINCOLN — Facing increased competition from casino gambling, supporters of the Nebraska Lottery are seeking to utilize vending machines to maintain lottery ticket sales.

A legislative committee was told Monday that Nebraska is one of only three states with state lotteries that don’t allow sales via vending machines.

Allowing vending machines could increase sales by up to $3.9 million a year, legislators were told, which would translate into an additional $800,000 in yearly revenue for the beneficiaries of the State Lottery, which include the Nebraska State Fair and grants for environmental and educational purposes.

Supporters said legalizing vending machines would also help alleviate a workforce shortage in grocery stores and other retail outlets, by allowing retail clerks to handle other sales instead of lottery tickets.

Seen as ‘win-win’ by retailers

“We think this is a win-win for the retailer, the consumer and the State Lottery,” said Rich Otto, who testified on behalf of the state retailer and grocery store associations.

Opponents of the idea told the Legislature’s General Affairs Committee that the increased lottery sales would translate into increased financial pain for low-income Nebraskans.

The poorest one-third of Americans buy one-half of all lottery tickets, thus impacting “the people who can afford it the least,” according to Nate Grasz of the Nebraska Family Alliance.

“Instead of lifting people up, this makes it much easier for people to lose more money,” Grasz said.

Called harmful for low-income families

Pat Loontjer of Gambling with the Good Life, which opposes expanded gambling, said that increased lottery sales translate into less money for families to spend on food and other necessities.

State Sen. Eliott Bostar of Lincoln said that his main purpose for introducing Legislative Bill 1268, which would allow vending machines, was to alleviate work for employees of retail outlets, which are facing serious workforce shortages.

He added that Nebraskans have “time and time again” voiced their support for gambling.

Supporters of the bill pointed out that vending machines are already allowed to sell keno tickets and that the vending machines scan a driver’s license to ensure that purchasers are old enough — 19 years old or older — to legally buy lottery tickets. If a winning ticket is sold, it would have to be cashed in with a clerk, they added.

Brian Rockey, the director of the Nebraska Lottery, said some chain retailers won’t sell lottery tickets unless it’s via a vending machine. So passing the bill would increase locations where tickets would be sold, he said.

The General Affairs Committee took no action Monday on the vending machine bill after a public hearing.

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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