BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering a 10-cent-per-gallon discount on gas for three months in 19 states, including Louisiana, to help consumers worried about their spending amid a sputtering economy and busy summer travel season.

The program requires participants to use a preloaded Walmart gift card, Walmart MoneyCard or Walmart credit card to get a 10-cent discount at the pump when used at Walmart or Murphy USA gas stations.

“Our customers have told us that high gas prices are a top budget concern, nearly as large an expense to their households as food and groceries,” Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Quinn said in a statement.

Gas prices neared $4 a gallon in late April and early May, but have since fallen to a national average of $3.57 per gallon. Still, the government reported on Monday that Americans spent at the weakest pace in 20 months in May, a sign gas prices may be hurting the economic recovery.

Wal-Mart said the discount will be taken immediately at the gas pump, with no other restrictions or requirements.

The Bentonville, Ark., company said that a complete list of participating Walmart and Murphy USA locations can be found at

It is not clear whether the discount will run afoul of a Louisiana law that prevents retailers from selling gasoline below cost.

During a debate about the law in the state Legislature in 2005, Wal-Mart and Murphy Oil were specifically named by a legislator arguing that the law was necessary to prevent large companies from undercutting the competition and driving independent stations out of business.

The law is enforced by the Attorney General’s Office. Spokeswoman Sharon Kleinpeter said there has been no time to check into whether the program is in compliance.

In addition to Louisiana, other states in the Wal-Mart program are Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Missouri, Idaho, New Mexico, Illinois, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Michigan and Virginia.

Florida will have a program structured differently, with 5 cents off at the pump and a 5-cent rebate later.

Wal-Mart, which had fiscal 2011 sales of $419 billion, has 9,000 stores in 15 countries.

Advocate business writer Chad Calder contributed to this report.