New mobile-enabled Lottery Card stirs concern with addiction counselors

A new way to play the lottery is raising concerns among counselors who help those addicted to gambling.

The new, mobile-enabled Lottery Card operates as a gift card would and can be used to play either Powerball or Mega Millions.

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The cards are available now at Kroger stores throughout the state as part of a pilot program.

According to creators Linq-3 and the Blackhawk network, the consumer buys a card in increments of $10 or $20 (plus an 89-cent fee for "mobile play benefits.”)

The buyer scratches off a section on the back of the card to reveal a code, which is then entered by text. Once the text has been sent, the buyer is in the next drawing automatically.

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Paula Cosby, external affairs director, Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, said the convenience is concerning to her.

"Gambling is an addiction very similar to drug addicition, so having increased availability is going to be easier to gamble and it will cause some additional challenges for the community," she told WHIO-TV Consumer Reporter Rachel Murray on Tuesday.

People in favor of the new method of gambling said the cards will help with the millions of lottery prizes that go unclaimed.

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According to the Ohio Lottery Commission, the Ohio Lottery in fiscal 2018 paid out more than $1.9 billion in prizes while $31 million in prizes went unclaimed, about 1.6 percent of the total prizes paid.

Most unclaimed tickets are small amounts, according to the commission.

According to the creators, winners will receive an alert and amounts under $599 will be deposited automatically to the player's paypal account.

Shelly Hunter, a gift card expert, said, "It comes right to your phone so you don't have to hold onto those tickets."

If you think you or someone you know has a gambling problem, there are several area organizations that can help: