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Illinois Senate president hopes to expand lottery

Illinois LotteryIllinois Lottery: Illinois Senate president hopes to expand lottery
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Internet sales being contemplated

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Hoping to squeeze more money out of the state lottery, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton wants to sell tickets online and hire a private company to manage and market the games.

Cullerton thinks new technology and fresh ideas could help Illinois — facing what could be a $9 billion hole in next year's budget — dramatically boost lottery revenues.

"I would venture to say you could potentially even double it," the Chicago Democrat said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

But lottery experts are skeptical, noting Internet sales could raise legal questions and might not attract many new customers because lottery tickets already are so easy to buy.

And changing lottery management would make little difference in sales, they say, unless Illinois also changed the kinds of games and marketing it allows. Would video lottery terminals, similar to slot machines, be allowed? Could the lottery be advertised aggressively without allegations of exploiting the poor?

"It really comes down to whether a lot of strings are attached," said Sen. Dave Syverson of Rockford, the top Republican on the Illinois Senate's gambling committee.

No U.S. lottery sells individual tickets online. A handful of states let people go online to buy long-term subscriptions, where customers sign up in advance to play the same numbers week after week. However, even that has been complicated by credit card companies classifying the subscriptions as a gambling purchase instead of a government service, triggering additional fees and red tape for customers.

Cullerton, D-Chicago, said he would like to sell online tickets to the state's major game, Lotto. He predicted that would attract impulse buyers who hear of a huge jackpot but don't want to stand in line at a convenience store. Then there would be even bigger jackpots.

"Buy it online, the jackpot goes up dramatically. Then you have the effect of more and more people buying," Cullerton said, estimating it might increase Lotto sales by $300 million a year.

Lotto sales for the past fiscal year totaled $113 million. Sales for the multistate "Mega Millions" game were $221 million.

Lottery experts say it's not clear whether Internet sales would be allowed under federal law.

I. Nelson Rose, a professor at California's Whittier Law School, said he thought it would be permitted so long as the computer system barred purchases by anyone outside of Illinois.

"It certainly would be successful, even if they limited it to Illinois. Most of the lotteries of the world sell a significant percentage of their tickets online," Rose said. But, he added, "It would be an incremental increase. To some extent, you're going to cannibalize what you've already got."

Other experts said the law is far from clear.

"I think it's an issue of not clearly understanding what exactly the rights are of the state in this issue," said David Gale, executive director of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

Even if legal, Internet ticket sales would raise sensitive policy questions.

Randy Miller, executive director of the lottery in North Dakota, where they allow online subscription purchases, said he would worry about gambling addicts maxing out their credit cards. "That's going to facilitate impulse-buying for problem gamblers," he said.

Cullerton said Illinois could see even more benefits from private management of the lottery.

He rejects the idea of selling the lottery or leasing it for decades to a private company, an idea former Gov. Rod Blagojevich had pushed. Instead, Cullerton suggests maintaining ownership but letting someone else manage and market the lottery.

He offered no specific predictions but said it might be possible to double sales, which totaled nearly $2.1 billion last year, up 2.8 percent from the year before.

"The private sector can manage the lottery much better than it's been managed. The lottery's trying to sell to the same people instead of marketing to new people," Cullerton said.

Others, however, say it's unlikely private management would make a dramatic difference unless the state's lottery laws changed, too.

Could private managers offer video lottery machines or keno, a popular Las Vegas game? Would they be allowed to sell tickets everywhere, including stores that sell pornography? Would they face any repercussions for advertising seen as targeting the poor and encouraging people to bet money they can't afford to lose, something that has happened in the past?

"One of the problems with this idea is, it still would be the state lottery. Even if it were privately run, I think you still wouldn't see them selling outside of welfare offices," Rose said. "Traditionally, lotteries have been fairly conservative because of the fear of political backlash."

AP

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11 comments. Last comment 8 years ago by Todd.
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United States
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July 11, 2003
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Posted: February 16, 2009, 10:06 pm - IP Logged

Well, as we've heard before, Massachusetts sells subscriptions over the phone to people out of state. So I dont see why Illinois selling individual tickets over the internet to out-of-staters would be illegal, seeing the precedent Massachusetts has set.

(insert signature here)

    Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
    Chief Bottle Washer
    New Jersey
    United States
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    May 31, 2000
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    Posted: February 16, 2009, 10:22 pm - IP Logged

    Well, as we've heard before, Massachusetts sells subscriptions over the phone to people out of state. So I dont see why Illinois selling individual tickets over the internet to out-of-staters would be illegal, seeing the precedent Massachusetts has set.

    It is untested waters.  Massachusetts may be doing something illegal (according to many states' AG).

     

    Check the State Lottery Report Card
    What grade did your lottery earn?

     

    Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
    Help eliminate computerized drawings!

      time*treat's avatar - radar

      United States
      Member #13130
      March 30, 2005
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      Posted: February 17, 2009, 7:41 am - IP Logged

      "Cullerton thinks new technology and fresh ideas could help Illinois —facing what could be a $9 billion hole in next year's budget —dramatically boost lottery revenues."

      Here's a fresh idea --> Cut the budget by $9 billion.

      In neo-conned Amerika, bank robs you.
      Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a govnoment agency.

        konane's avatar - wallace
        Atlanta, GA
        United States
        Member #1265
        March 13, 2003
        3350 Posts
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        Posted: February 17, 2009, 9:42 am - IP Logged

        It is untested waters.  Massachusetts may be doing something illegal (according to many states' AG).

        Agree, however wish all would reconsider and amend laws from the feds on down.  It's time.  

        From an environmental standpoint just think of the gas people would save, pollution that wouldn't be created, global warming that wouldn't be generated if we could just purchase over the internet.    Green laugh Green laugh  Green laugh

        Good luck to everyone!

          Think's avatar - lightbulb
          Marquette, MI
          United States
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          August 20, 2005
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          Posted: February 17, 2009, 11:32 am - IP Logged

          It is untested waters.  Massachusetts may be doing something illegal (according to many states' AG).

          Of course it is the AGs opinion that it's illegal.  They don't want their states losing the dollars to other states.  I will beleive it is illegal when they prove it.

          "The American Voter is too Stupid..."   Jonathan Gruber Obamacare Architect

          "There is no sin except stupidity" Oscar Wilde

          https://books.google.com/books?id=apm21IcqhmcC&pg=PP6&lpg=PP6&dq=americans+can+tolerate+just+about+anything+except+stupidity&source=bl&ots=tq9QUeP46j&sig=qXfXEz-wh_yUQSsE8DZG0ZjABls&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwil8YSjmuDPAhWF7IMKHV11A0kQ6AEIUzAI#v=onepage&q=americans%20can%20tolerate%20just%20about%20anything%20except%20stupidity&f=false

            mjwinsmith's avatar - moon

            United States
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            June 8, 2002
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            Posted: February 17, 2009, 12:26 pm - IP Logged

            It is untested waters.  Massachusetts may be doing something illegal (according to many states' AG).

            I am with you, it's illegal. The courts are going to have to sort this out.

              ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
              Idaho
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              November 21, 2007
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              Posted: February 17, 2009, 12:30 pm - IP Logged

              I am with you, it's illegal. The courts are going to have to sort this out.

              What the Massachusetts subscription? I hope not. I am playing it.

              "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

                Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                Chief Bottle Washer
                New Jersey
                United States
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                May 31, 2000
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                Posted: February 17, 2009, 1:45 pm - IP Logged

                What the Massachusetts subscription? I hope not. I am playing it.

                I know what you mean, but the Massachusetts arrangement has not been tested in court, so I'm not big on doing it.  However, the "butler service" concept HAS been tested in court, and it has won every time.  The only problem these days is most of the sites don't really buy the tickets, so overall trying to play lotto games over the Internet is risky or outright scandalous.

                 

                Check the State Lottery Report Card
                What grade did your lottery earn?

                 

                Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                  Bondi Junction
                  Australia
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                  December 24, 2007
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                  Posted: February 17, 2009, 11:27 pm - IP Logged

                  Illinois should introduce online sales, the UK does it and the sky has not fallen in. They should also expand their subscription service and allow people outside the state to participate. Massachusetts permits this and it raises extra revenue for the state.

                    Bondi Junction
                    Australia
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                    Posted: February 17, 2009, 11:32 pm - IP Logged

                    It is untested waters.  Massachusetts may be doing something illegal (according to many states' AG).

                    Massachusetts is not doing anything illegal, the law forbids the USPS form being uses to transport lottery tickets, so they use a courier. It is willing buyer and willing seller, people are not forced to call the lottery and buy subscriptions.

                      Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                      Chief Bottle Washer
                      New Jersey
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                      Posted: February 18, 2009, 8:59 am - IP Logged

                      Massachusetts is not doing anything illegal, the law forbids the USPS form being uses to transport lottery tickets, so they use a courier. It is willing buyer and willing seller, people are not forced to call the lottery and buy subscriptions.

                      I don't think you've researched the law very deeply.  Transporting gambling materials by common carriers (or "courier", as you say) across state lines is illegal, unless specifically allowed by agreement between states.  I know of no agreement between any states for the allowance of cross-state lottery sales, and in fact my understanding is that the states are very much against such a thing.

                      Just because you personally enjoy playing the lottery in this manner, it is unwise to make blanket statements about legality, especially when you appear not to have researched the topic at any great depth.

                      Having a "willing buyer and willing seller" is completely irrelevant.  Drug deals are between willing buyers and sellers also.

                       

                      Check the State Lottery Report Card
                      What grade did your lottery earn?

                       

                      Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                      Help eliminate computerized drawings!