Lotteries may gamble on
Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY
states are considering selling lottery tickets on the
Internet, a change that could usher in a new era in how
such tickets are purchased.
Online lottery sales would be limited to residents
within the state. But Internet lottery sales are
expected to spread quickly to other states if the
practice proves popular, advocates of the idea say.
"Every state is looking at it," says Georgia state Rep.
Terry Barnard, a Republican whose bill authorizing
Internet sales passed the Georgia House of
Representatives last month. The Senate adjourned before
officials hope the Internet will boost lottery sales,
which have been sluggish in some states because of
competition from casinos and Internet gambling.
bottom line is: It will make more money and help school
funding," says Illinois state Sen. John Cullerton, a
Democrat. The Illinois Senate approved online sales
April 14 and sent the bill to the House.
said for 10 years that Internet lottery sales are just
around the corner, and I may finally be proved right,"
says Charles Strutt, executive director of the
Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the
Internet sales are "the next logical step to make life
easier for our players," says Rick Wiser, executive
director of New Hampshire lottery, which was the
nation's first when it began in 1964.
states and Washington, D.C., have lotteries. Oklahoma
will start one in October and is looking at online
sales. North Carolina also is considering a lottery.
Lottery sales were $49.4 billion in 2004, according to
the North American Association of State and Provincial
Lotteries. Once prizes and administrative costs were
paid, $15.1 billion was left in revenue for states.
Throughout the USA, 64% of lottery profits go to
education funding, the association says.
Internet sales have drawn opposition from gambling
opponents. "My biggest concern is that teens could get
lottery tickets and start gambling online," says Guy
Clark, chairman of the National Coalition Against
Internet lottery sales will expand a bad public policy
that hits hardest on the poor, who spend a greater
portion of their income on tickets than the affluent,
says Alicia Hansen of the Tax Foundation, which studies
tax policy. "If one state starts, other states will
follow because legislators feel they have to compete to
get all the revenue they can," she says.
Cullerton says Internet sales would bring more affluent
families to the lottery, reducing states' dependence on
the poor to drive sales. "This is no more an expansion
of gambling than putting a new lottery terminal in a
convenience store," he says.
Legislators are placing tight restrictions on Internet
lottery sales. Georgia would limit sales to $5 per day
and not allow credit card purchases. Debit cards could
be used. A buyer would have to open an account and show
identification in a convenience store before purchasing
Cullerton says teenagers and out-of-state residents can
be kept from playing the lottery by requiring
identification to open an account.