03/20/2012 :   OPPOSITION TO MAINE ONLINE LOTTERY PLANS
 
But lottery official says it is important for state to keep pace with new developments
 
Maine's tentative moves toward the 2013 launch of internet lottery ticket sales have encountered some opposition from retail store ticket sellers and the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway.
 
The state legislature's Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee heard evidence Monday on a bill proposed by Sen. Debra Plowman seeking to introduce online ticket sales by not earlier than 2013.
 
Jerry Reed, director of the Maine Bureau of Lottery Operations, urged committee members to support the move, saying: "Internet communications and business is a massive and rapidly moving part of our culture. States are starting to actively pursue Internet sales.”
 
Reed told lawmakers that the lottery needs to bolster sales to the “Generation Y” segment of the population, 18-to 30-year-olds that embrace the Internet.
 
“While our lottery revenue generation is doing reasonably well, our consumer or customer head count participation is flat to slightly down,” he said, stressing the need to start preparing regulations and systems in advance.
 
“We want to pursue this new opportunity of online gaming in the process of negotiating a new contract with our gaming system vendor,” Reed additionally pointed out.
 
Speaking against the proposal, Cheryl Timberlake, a lobbyist for Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino, said “The slow move to games that provide instant gratification through the Internet will have a significant impact on bricks and mortar casinos like Hollywood Casino as well as retailers via the lottery.“
 
Timberlake suggested that land casinos and lottery retailers should be the ones to operate any sort of Internet sales operation and would require that users establish accounts and prove they are of age to gamble.
 
Jamie Py, president of the Energy Marketers Association, which represents many of the 1,100 convenience stores in the state, urged the Legislature to move slowly and deliberately on the issue and get all of the stakeholders together to work out legalization.
 
Sen. Plowman explained that her intent was not to give a green light to allow Internet sales immediately, but to allow the development of a proposal for the next session of the Legislature to consider.