By Christine DiGangi / Credit.com
January 13, 2016

People all over the country clamored to buy Powerball tickets this week, driving the jackpot up over $1.5 billion on Tuesday. That’s no small feat: In most states, buying a Powerball ticket means looking up a licensed seller and venturing out to make the purchase. In Utah, where gambling is illegal, residents are driving across state lines to get in on the action. A border town in Idaho has reported long lines out of gas stations and convenience stores, where people from the neighboring state have flocked to purchase tickets.

It’s not that difficult everywhere. The ease of buying lottery tickets largely relies on where you live, with some states accepting credit card payments and even allowing online purchases for lottery tickets.

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At least 14 states allow people to buy lottery tickets with credit cards. Even so, the circumstances under which a credit card is accepted vary widely. It could mean that retailers accept credit cards, but credit card purchases could be limited to online sales or lottery-ticket subscriptions. Like many things that vary from state to state, it’s a complicated issue. Here are the states where laws allow in some way for you to buy lottery tickets with a credit card, according to these states’ lottery websites.

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont
  • Washington

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There may be more — some states don’t specify if it’s legal or not. But, remember, even if the state allows retailers to accept credit card payments for lottery tickets, the merchant has the final say on that matter. (You can also check your state’s lottery website to see what rules may apply.) Keep in mind, merchant networks or your credit card issuer, too, may generally prohibit the practice.

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A Dangerous Way to Pay and Play?

Of course, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Gambling on a credit card can be very dangerous. Cash advances taken out in casinos, for instance, often have astronomical annual percentage rates associated with them and start accruing interest immediately. The dangers associated with running up a big credit card bill, particularly when you won’t be able to pay if off in full anytime soon, are likely why so many states regulate or disallow the practice. Just imagine the potential that has to fuel a gambling problem or push you deep into credit card debt. So, if you’re hoping to cash in on this Powerball mania, good luck to you, but as the saying goes, play (and purchase) responsibly.

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