H-E-B Getting Lottery Kiosks

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The H.E. Butt Grocery Co., headquartered here, has teamed up with the Texas Lottery Commission, which is in the process of installing self-service touchscreen lottery dispensers at about approximately 200 of the supermarket chain's stores across Texas.

H-E-B has about 283 stores in the state. Around 30 locations currently have the terminals, which let players select among Lotto Texas, Mega Millions, Texas Two Step, Cash 5, and Pick 3. This is the company’s first foray into selling lottery tickets.

Echoing comments H-E-B director of public affairs Greg Flores made in the San Antonio Express-News, Bobby Heith, director of media relations for the Texas Lottery Commission, told Progressive Grocer that the dispensers were a good fit for H-E-B, as the chain doesn't delegate personnel to sell lottery tickets to customers. With the convenient self-service kiosks, which Heith said have garnered "great feedback" from players, H-E-B can now sell lottery tickets without hiring more associates or diverting current employees from other tasks. According to Heith, the commission has been in contact with other Texas grocers, including Brookshire Grocery Co., Brookshire Brothers, and "maybe even Randalls and Albertsons."

Speculating about expanding to all H-E-B stores in Texas, Heith said, "I'm sure we will. . .if sales warrant the purchase of more machines." Total Texas lottery revenues have exceeded the $11 billion mark, the commission said earlier this year.

Lottery critic Dawn Nettles, publisher of the Garland, Texas-based Lotto Report, told Progressive Grocer that a major problem with the kiosks was that stores frequently placed them where they couldn’t be shut off or closely watched, thereby allowing minors to operate the devices. "It's up to the retailer to see that tickets are sold legally," maintained Nettles, whose watchdog group is filming kiosk areas to find out how often underage players use them. She explained that this strategy was not meant to punish retailers but to show how they and the players were actually being hurt by the lottery.

The H-E-B terminals are part of the commission's initial installation of 1,000 dispensers at selected retail locations this year. A retailer gets five cents for each ticket sold and 1 percent of a winning ticket up to $500,000.
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