Kansas legalizes vending machine sales of lottery tickets

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas has legalized vending-machine sales of lottery tickets, and state officials expect the machines to start popping up at stores and gas stations next year.

Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer signed a bill this week to authorize the vending machines, and the new law is set to take effect later this month. Kansas Lottery Director Terry Presta said Friday that eventually 500 machines could be spread among the 1,700 retail stores that now sell lottery tickets.

Most of the 44 states with lotteries already allowed vending-machine sales, including neighboring Missouri. Kansas Lottery officials have pushed for several years to legalize the machines in their state, but the move was blocked by Colyer’s predecessor, conservative former Gov. Sam Brownback.

Presta said vending machines eventually could increase the Kansas Lottery’s annual ticket sales by as much as $100 million. The lottery reported $258 million in sales during the state’s 2017 budget year, which ended June 30, and the state’s take was 29 percent, or $75 million.

“It’s great for the state of Kansas,” Presta said. “It’ll be nice to have a little more money.”

The new law says that up to $4 million of the state’s profits from the vending machines must got to community mental health services during the state budget year beginning in July and up to $8 million each year after that.

At the Quick Stop store in Topeka, owner Tony Mashaal was enthusiastic when told of the new law. His lottery sales this week through Friday morning were about $2,100, and he said he feels good about selling tickets because of the dollars raised for the state.

He speculated on where he could place a vending machine and said it would increase sales because people would not have to wait in line.

Kansas resisted vending machines even after it legalized state-owned casinos under the lottery in 2007. Brownback vetoed a vending-machine bill last year, and his message to lawmakers echoed decades-earlier debates on legalizing the lottery and other gambling by arguing that the lottery disproportionately hurts poor Kansans.

“The state should not encourage behavior that undermines our efforts to encourage upward economic mobility and long term financial security and thrift,” Brownback wrote.

Brownback resigned at the end of January to take an ambassador’s post, elevating Colyer from lieutenant governor to governor. Legislators passed another vending-machine bill earlier this month with large, bipartisan majorities.

“People were familiar with it,” Presta said. “It was much easier.”

Yet some lawmakers still opposed the move. Democratic state Rep. John Carmichael, of Wichita, said it’s “morally repugnant” for Kansas to raise money for mental health services by preying on people with gambling addictions.

“I think they handed out a little piece of candy in exchange for an expansion of gambling,” Carmichael said.

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