NC Lottery debuts games you can play while pumping gas

A new NC Lottery feature called “Play at the Pump” allows people to play a jackpot game while pumping gas.
A new NC Lottery feature called “Play at the Pump” allows people to play a jackpot game while pumping gas. abell@charlotteobserver.com

A new feature from the N.C. lottery lets people play jackpot games at the same time they are pumping gas.

It’s called “Play at the Pump,” and it’s available at about a dozen gas stations in the Charlotte area and 120 statewide.

North Carolina Education Lottery officials are partnering with a third-party vendor, Linq3, to offer the service. The lottery sees the program as a way to stay atop changing technology while attracting casual players or those who don’t have the time to go into the convenience store to buy tickets.

North Carolina is the first state in the South and the fourth nationwide to offer this program. The other states are Minnesota, Missouri and California.

Here’s how it works.

People using their debit card as they buy gas are given the option of playing Powerball, Mega Millions or Carolina Cash 5. The numbers are automatically chosen for the player, and there’s a minimum purchase required depending on the game.

Players are limited to $70 per week per debit card, according to the lottery.

There’s also a $1 service charge that goes to the vendor. Winnings less than $600 are automatically sent to the account tied to the debit card. Larger prizes must be claimed in person.

As with any lottery game, players need to be 18 or older, and the vendor verifies the debit card belongs to someone who is at least 18. The lottery has an FAQ site for additional details.

Right now, there’s only one station in Charlotte that offers the service, the Murphy USA store on Galleria Boulevard. The state expects to expand the program.

People can check for locations on the lottery website at https://ncelonthego.com/where_to_play.

At Fairview Grocery in eastern Union County, manager Terry Harrell said customers seemto be divided over the new program.

A lot of people like not having to go inside to buy a lottery ticket, Harrell said, while some who don’t play dislike that they have to go through an extra screen at the pump before they can start gassing up.

“For the most part, though, (the customers) are tickled pink,” she said. “You’ve got to keep changing if you want to stay up to date in the convenience business.”

Outside Fairview Grocery, several customers were unaware they could play the games while pumping gas. Midland resident Mitchell Chaney thought it was a good idea, and something he might try.

But Bill Robson of Chimney Rock offered a different take on the games at the pump and elsewhere. “I’ve never played one lottery ticket. So I win every time.”

Adam Bell: 704-358-5696, @abell