HARTFORD, Ct. — Lawmakers are considering legislation that would move the Connecticut Lottery online for state residents.
A bill raised by the legislature's Public Safety and Security Committee would allow for lottery tickets to be sold online through a licensed vendor. If the bill moves forward, Connecticut would be one of the few states in the country to offer online lottery tickets. It would also be one of the only states to sell online tickets through an outside vendor.
"I've never heard of this before," said state Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven, co-chair of the committee. "I thought it was somewhat different."
The Illinois Lottery and Georgia Lottery have been selling tickets online since 2012, but tickets are only available directly through the state lottery website, not a vendor. Direct online sales have been available through the Michigan Lottery since 2014. Online lottery tickets were sold through two primary vendors in Minnesota until last year, when the state's legislature shut the online program down. New York offers online subscriptions for certain lottery games, allowing residents to order tickets and receive winnings online or through a check sent to their residence.
He doesn't think the proposal will have much support, Dargan said, but that lawmakers are eager to learn more about the "unique" idea. A public hearing on the bill will be held Tuesday in Hartford.
"I think that's why we're hearing it, to get an education and find out what's going on in the gaming world with this," he said, noting that the proposal likely came from a lobbyist representing a company that would like to sell tickets online.
Under the pending legislation in Connecticut, a lottery sales agent — someone who is licensed to sell lottery products — would enter into an agreement with a company to sell lottery tickets online. The company would then purchase tickets on behalf of others through the sales agent, and would be tasked with redeeming and distributing winnings.
Any company selling tickets online would not be able to charge a service fee or accept credit cards. In addition, the company would have to verify that tickets could only be purchased by those in state who are 18 and older. The legislation requires that the company allow the purchaser to view the ticket before a winner is determined.
The state Department of Consumer Protection issues licenses to lottery vendors in the state, and would also serve as the regulatory body for online lottery sales, according to the legislation. Companies that sell online tickets would need to be licensed through state, just like a vendor at a convenience store. State law allows the DCP to conduct in-depth background checks of lottery vendors, including an analysis of corporate and personal financial assets.
Connecticut Lottery and DCP officials say they didn't propose the legislation and declined to comment further on what online ticket sales would mean for the state's lottery system, which contributed $319.7 million in revenue to the general fund last year. A majority of those funds, around $54 million, went to the state Department of Education. Other states have pursued an online lottery to boost ticket sales and revenue, but anti-gambling advocates have expressed concern about the accessibility of tickets to those who have gambling problems or are under 18.
He shares those concerns, Dargan said, but legislators are interested in learning more.
"A lot of times, we have these public hearings so we're able to let committee members ask questions you might not think of yourself," he said. "There's a lot of good give and take."