02/19/2012 : ILLINOIS LOTTERY TICKET SELLERS WANT A CUT OF ANY INTERNET OPERATION
 
Trade association claims that any move online must ensure that their members get a fair share
 
Moves by the Illinois state lottery to take the sale of lottery tickets online will be opposed by traditional sellers if they do not receive some benefit, according to the trade body Illinois Retail Merchants Association.
 
Addressing media at a Chicago press conference this week, the Association said that internet sales, now set to begin on March 25, could cost the state 7,000 jobs as customers gravitate to the Internet and retailers lay off workers.
 
The group wants more discussion with all interested parties on its concerns and related matters, such as how to prevent those under age 18 from gambling.
 
"It is in everyone's interest . . . to ensure the implementation of Internet lottery is done properly from the start and builds on the relationship with Main Street retailers," association president and CEO David Vite said.
 
Complicating the issue is a proposal by state legislator Jim Watson, a Republican from Jacksonville, who has introduced a bill that would allow Illinois residents to buy a lottery ticket on the internet only if they first purchase a "stored-value card" at a traditional retailer for cash — a card on which the retailer would receive a minimum 5 percent commission.
 
Watson also wants to restrict the pay-out of any lottery prize up to $600 to traditional retail outlets.
 
Illinois lottery exec Mike Jones has labeled Watson's bill "special interest legalization." He contends that research has shown that in countries like England, Italy and France Internet sales attract so many new players to the lottery that retailers benefit rather than lose out.
 
"We think this [move into internet operations] is extremely positive for retailers," Jones said this week, hinting at revised game and award systems that would help retailers even more. And it's relatively easy to control underage gambling online by using registration, credit card and other data, he claimed.
 
The possibilities for Internet lottery sales became more positive in earlier this year when federal enforcement agencies lifted long-standing policies and legal objections.