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Minnesota Lottery to offer online 'scratch-off' tickets

Minnesota LotteryMinnesota Lottery: Minnesota Lottery to offer online 'scratch-off' tickets
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As expected, critics are outraged, supporters hopeful

Forget that drive to a convenience store for a scratch-off lottery ticket.

The Minnesota State Lottery soon will give consumers the same chance at a jackpot from the comfort of home, allowing them to scratch off tickets with a mouse and a cursor, not a coin.

Undeterred by earlier criticisms, lottery official are making a bold play to reach the next generation of lottery players by going beyond its current Powerball-like games online and delving into the lucrative scratch-off market.

"I fully understand the fear, that the Internet is the boogeyman and all that," said Ed Van Petten, executive director of the Minnesota State Lottery. "Online sales are a very minuscule portion of our business. I don't expect it to be a great sales generator for us; I just expect it to be a great marketing tool."

Gambling critics are blasting the plan as a stealthy, state-backed expansion that will prey on addicts and create new ones, all in the service of puffing up the state budget. They have watched with growing apprehension as lottery officials have expanded sales to ATMs and even gas pumps.

"It's horrifying," said state Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston. "We have the lottery gone wild. I am very concerned about where this lottery is heading."

Online gambling made up a tiny fraction, less than 1 percent, of the state's $560 million lottery business last year. But lottery officials are on a roll, having increased overall revenue for each of the last six years, even during the Great Recession. About 45,000 Minnesotans have signed up for online accounts, a number lottery officials expect to grow as consumers become more comfortable playing games and spending money online.

Lottery afficionados soon will have their choice of a host of online scratch-off lottery games, digital replicas of the actual paper lottery tickets they now buy at retailers. Online players can bet up to $50 a week, and problem gamblers can block themselves from the site. The lottery site also has a "cooling-off period," which delays a request for a limit increase to discourage consumers from betting excessively. The lottery has multiple ways of ensuring customers are old enough to play and geo-locators to make sure the player is in Minnesota.

Retailers anxious

Convenience store operators remain deeply skeptical. They feel undercut by the state after investing heavily in the equipment and personnel needed to run reputable lottery outlets.

"This is a very big step, and I don't think we need to do this," said Mark Ogren, owner of Croix Oil Co., which owns numerous convenience stores around the metro area. "The lottery is already readily available for anybody who wants to play, and they don't need to go online."

Van Petten said that research in countries offering similar online games shows that the online gambling sites actually increase sales at retail stores.

Once customers start playing online, he said, they are more likely to buy paper tickets in conveniences stores.

"We are not going to hurt them, and I don't want to hurt them," Van Petten said. "We will help each other."

Online gambling is a tricky issue in Minnesota and around the nation. Private online gambling remains illegal in Minnesota, and officials have rejected countless private industry proposals to expand gambling. That has given government, tribal casinos and charitable organizations a viselike grip on the state's gambling industry.

The push into online gambling began in the closing months of Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration, and the effort shows no signs of slowing under DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.

At this point, legislators can do little to stop the move into online lottery sales. Lottery officials notify lawmakers about their new activities but say they do not need legislative approval.

"It's certainly a firestorm." said Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park. "We've got to fix something."

Van Petten said the State Lottery always operates within the law and he is more than happy to share details about its evolving enterprise.

"We have no intention of hiding anything we are doing from anybody," he said.

Lottery officials do, however, feel a strong sense of urgency to expand online offerings in case the federal government cracks down on new Internet gambling activities by states.

Officials do not envision online gambling going away, no matter how determined regulators are to snuff it out. Companies overseas already serve a thriving subculture of online gambling.

"That horse has left the barn, and that horse left a long time ago," said Don Feeney, research and planning director for the lottery.

Lottery officials are racing against changing demographics, too.

In 2003, 52 percent of Minnesotans ages 18 to 24 years played the lottery. A decade later, just 29 percent of those in that same age group do so.

"The lottery is just not on their radar," Van Petten said.

In a digitally driven culture, lottery officials say they must go where the customers are.

Taxpayers have a lot at stake in the lottery's online push. A fourth of all lottery proceeds fund environmental efforts in Minnesota and the state's general fund, which pays for schools, health care, public safety and other essentials.

Some legislators say money alone should not be the bottom line, that moral concerns must be a factor.

"To do something this major and drastic, in the darkness of night, without any kind of oversight is just wrong," said Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Stillwater.

She is most concerned about the effect on small businesses and the targeting of new, younger customers.

"It's an addiction for some people, and the earlier you get into it, the more likely that addiction is going to happen," she said. "It just seems like in government, we are always trying to find ways to raise more money."

Minneapolis Star Tribune

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22 comments. Last comment 7 months ago by jamella724.
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Jon D's avatar - calotterylogo
Los Angeles, California
United States
Member #103816
January 5, 2011
1530 Posts
Offline
Posted: December 23, 2013, 9:13 am - IP Logged

Bad, bad, bad idea. Thumbs Down

The lottery expanding their stranglehold on lottery gaming, particularly scratch style into the online space, before even allowing real gambling like online poker, that's just pure greed.

    helpmewin's avatar - dandy
    u$a
    United States
    Member #106669
    February 22, 2011
    17055 Posts
    Online
    Posted: December 23, 2013, 9:45 am - IP Logged

    "We are not going to hurt them, and I don't want to hurt them," Van Petten said. "We will help each other." Naughty

    "We have no intention of hiding anything we are doing from anybody," he said Hit With Stick

    "That horse has left the barn, and that horse left a long time ago,"Rudolph

    Minnesota Lottery to offer online 'scratch-off' tickets.

     

    Sounds like a great ideaGreen laugh

                     

      Jon D's avatar - calotterylogo
      Los Angeles, California
      United States
      Member #103816
      January 5, 2011
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      Posted: December 23, 2013, 10:18 am - IP Logged

      "We are not going to hurt them, and I don't want to hurt them," Van Petten said. "We will help each other." Naughty

      "We have no intention of hiding anything we are doing from anybody," he said Hit With Stick

      "That horse has left the barn, and that horse left a long time ago,"Rudolph

      Minnesota Lottery to offer online 'scratch-off' tickets.

       

      Sounds like a great ideaGreen laugh

      Thumbs Up Yeah, sounds creepy to me:

      Have no fear . . . we mean you no harm . . . we're just here to help you win!

      Sulk Off

        mypiemaster's avatar - peace
        He who dies with the most toys WINS!!!.

        United States
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        April 2, 2013
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        Posted: December 23, 2013, 10:55 am - IP Logged

        TypeThe lottery has never ever done, and will never ever do anything, with the sole purpose of benefiting the players. Now you don't even need to leave your house to drain your bank account. You in effect become your own identity thief. Online lottery games for the states should be limited to subscription games and not this account draining scratchy stuff. The only thing that gets scratched is your bank account.

        ...Credit cards over the limit with extra charges etc.

        ...Debit cards overdrawn plus penalties etc.

        ...Families in turmoil and you know the rest of the story.Hiding Behind ComputerMORE AND MORE BROKE ADDICTS CREATED EVERY DAY. HURRAYHurray!

        ...This must be progress, in the eyes of the lotteries!!!.

        Seekand ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

        Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

          BuyLow's avatar - palm tree.jpg
          Florida
          United States
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          May 22, 2008
          775 Posts
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          Posted: December 23, 2013, 11:13 am - IP Logged

          Don't like this at all....

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            Halethorpe
            United States
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            May 4, 2012
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            Posted: December 23, 2013, 11:35 am - IP Logged

            Terrible idea. This cheats the long time players who don't and will never play online scratch offs IE: scratch offs have a fixed number of winning tickets. Suppose the three top tier prizes on a 20 dollar ticket which would pay a million dollars are all online codes. that means the customers who play paper tickets in stores wouldn't have a chance in hell of winning the top tier prize.

              Jon D's avatar - calotterylogo
              Los Angeles, California
              United States
              Member #103816
              January 5, 2011
              1530 Posts
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              Posted: December 23, 2013, 11:44 am - IP Logged

              TypeThe lottery has never ever done, and will never ever do anything, with the sole purpose of benefiting the players. Now you don't even need to leave your house to drain your bank account. You in effect become your own identity thief. Online lottery games for the states should be limited to subscription games and not this account draining scratchy stuff. The only thing that gets scratched is your bank account.

              ...Credit cards over the limit with extra charges etc.

              ...Debit cards overdrawn plus penalties etc.

              ...Families in turmoil and you know the rest of the story.Hiding Behind ComputerMORE AND MORE BROKE ADDICTS CREATED EVERY DAY. HURRAYHurray!

              ...This must be progress, in the eyes of the lotteries!!!.

              Right, draw/lotto games are one thing, those are fine to offer online.(PB, MM, state lotto, etc.)

              Daily games, pick 3/4, OK, but don't go crazy. Once a day for p4, maybe twice for p3, but you start going 4 times a day, or every 4 hours, or every hour...watch out! Now you crossed the line into slippery slope.

              Scratch games are already bad, not like a true/traditional lottery and crossing into gambling with the speed of play and potential for abuse. Now you expand online? Bad.

              If the state opens up online gambling, I want poker and other casino games with much better payouts, not scratch off play to feed the state's coffers.

                Avatar
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                Halethorpe
                United States
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                May 4, 2012
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                Posted: December 23, 2013, 11:45 am - IP Logged

                Remember this:Lottery afficionados soon will have their choice of a host of online scratch-off lottery games, digital replicas of the actual paper lottery tickets they now buy at retailers. Players in Minnesota would be fools to play either paper or online scratch offs if they go ahead with this. It's gotta be one or the other and not both!!!!!

                  LottoMetro's avatar - Lottery-024.jpg
                  Happyland
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                  September 1, 2013
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                  Posted: December 23, 2013, 12:27 pm - IP Logged

                  I have tested an online scratch off before, and after doing so I felt overwhelmingly scammed, even though I paid nothing to play. The experience is just not the same at all. For one, you don't know if the payouts are consistent and/or if the lottery is being honest....or if the RNG is working properly. With paper games they are pre-printed and you can buy some and know you'll hit a winner (at least in my state).

                  If the chances of winning the jackpot are so slim, why play when the jackpot is so small? Your chances never change, but the payoff does.

                  If a crystal ball showed you the future of the rest of your life, and in that future you will never win a jackpot, would you still play?

                  2013: -35.14% (158 tickets) || 2014: +20.00% (13 tickets)

                    mrcraft's avatar - images3lp4 zps7dbb4a10.jpg
                    Los Angeles, California
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                    December 2, 2013
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                    Posted: December 23, 2013, 3:42 pm - IP Logged

                    Bad idea on many fronts. I don't like anything digital when it comes to drawing numbers in the lottery.  Although, the lottery office can claim that they are fool proof, we have evidence that they are not. Look at Arizona.  It took officials over a month to figure out (only after player complaints) that there was a glitch in the code that prevented some numbers from being "digitally" drawn if certain conditions were met. Since most people throw away draw tickets right after finding out they are not winners, many people were not compensated for the state lottery's mistake.

                      VFR95's avatar - Lottery-030.jpg
                      Whetstone
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                      February 15, 2013
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                      Posted: December 23, 2013, 4:11 pm - IP Logged

                      Bad idea on many fronts. I don't like anything digital when it comes to drawing numbers in the lottery.  Although, the lottery office can claim that they are fool proof, we have evidence that they are not. Look at Arizona.  It took officials over a month to figure out (only after player complaints) that there was a glitch in the code that prevented some numbers from being "digitally" drawn if certain conditions were met. Since most people throw away draw tickets right after finding out they are not winners, many people were not compensated for the state lottery's mistake.

                      I agree 100%, bad bad idea, I was lucky enough to have saved my tickets during the glitch period. They didn't offer any cash for my losses, only replacement tickets.........digital drawings suck.

                       

                      Dreamer,

                        RedStang's avatar - 55CHEVYCustom zpsff17f2e3.jpg
                        Dutchess , NY
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                        January 21, 2012
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                        Posted: December 23, 2013, 4:55 pm - IP Logged

                        I have tested an online scratch off before, and after doing so I felt overwhelmingly scammed, even though I paid nothing to play. The experience is just not the same at all. For one, you don't know if the payouts are consistent and/or if the lottery is being honest....or if the RNG is working properly. With paper games they are pre-printed and you can buy some and know you'll hit a winner (at least in my state).

                        or if the lottery is being honest.   Can't trust no one these days. If i don't see Mr.Patel working, i usually walk out.

                         

                        Not sure if this will work. At one time, i did'nt think Video poker would become popular.

                          Jon D's avatar - calotterylogo
                          Los Angeles, California
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                          Posted: December 23, 2013, 5:32 pm - IP Logged

                          Bad idea on many fronts. I don't like anything digital when it comes to drawing numbers in the lottery.  Although, the lottery office can claim that they are fool proof, we have evidence that they are not. Look at Arizona.  It took officials over a month to figure out (only after player complaints) that there was a glitch in the code that prevented some numbers from being "digitally" drawn if certain conditions were met. Since most people throw away draw tickets right after finding out they are not winners, many people were not compensated for the state lottery's mistake.

                          And the Arizona incident pales in comparison to the California incident, which went 6 months without being discovered! Whoops! Also after player complaints.

                          Imagine that happening with randomly selecting scratch games. And how will people know without something like a draw history?

                            mamamary517's avatar - Lottery-024.jpg
                            Brooklyn, NY
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                            Posted: December 23, 2013, 5:38 pm - IP Logged

                            I don't like anyone telling me how I can waste my money.  If I choose to buy scratch-offs online or in the store, cigarettes, junk food or any other vice I have It is my money I will spend it all anyway I want.