01/04/2012 : Concerns that an internet extension may harm retail ticket sellers
Whilst a number of state lotteries in the US have expressed interest in the possibilities of internet action following the DoJ's change of heart regarding the Wire Act, the state of Maine is taking a more conservative approach it appears.
According to the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Lottery has no immediate plans to implement an internet expansion, with the main concern being the impact that this may have on existing retail ticket sellers.
Talking to a reporter from the newspaper this week about the new DoJ policy, the director of the lottery, Tim Poulin, said: “I think it’s fair to say that we have no immediate plans here at the Lottery to offer any Internet-based lottery sales. Moving to Internet-based sales would have a major impact on the retail partners of the Lottery.”
Poulin explained that there are broad implications to the DoJ ruling and the basic way the state lottery operates could change. Maine now sells both instant lottery tickets and online games through retailers at 1,300 locations across the state, and the ruling would allow sales directly through a website.
Pat Fleming, executive director of the Maine Gambling Control Board wrote in an email to the newspaper that he will be reviewing the DoJ decision and its implications for casino gambling that the board oversees.
What is not clear is whether the Justice Department decision limits the online gambling to in-state. “That is one of many questions we need to look into,” Poulin said.
State Senator Nichi Farnham, the co-chair of the state Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee which has jurisdiction over gambling issues, said the panel already has several gambling issues before them and that Internet gambling will certainly be added to the list.
“We are always playing catch-up on these issues,” she said. “I would like to get ahead of this one, to get out in front.”
Farnham said Nevada regulators have already moved to get ready for online gambling by adopting rules to regulate in-state online gambling. She said with other states also looking at the issue, it’s important that Maine consider how it wants to react to the new opportunity.
“We have had to react to citizen initiated gaming laws in the past,” Farnham said. “This is giving us the motivation now to get something in place so that when, or if, this comes to Maine we have regulations in front of us.”
She said there is no doubt the committee will add the issue to one of its meetings early in the session so all members can find out about the implications of the decision and what policies Maine should consider.
Rep. Mike Carey, the leader for his party on the panel said he is pleased Farnham wants the committee to quickly address the issue. He said online gambling has huge implications for the state.
“It has implications potentially for state revenues, but also for existing Lottery revenues and revenues those nonprofits across the state count on from poker and other games of chance,” he said. “We are going to have to jump on this and try to find out as much as we can in a short time.”
Carey said the state will need to consider what other states do in setting Maine’s policy or the state could face loss of state revenues at a time when every dollar is needed.
Farnham said she will be discussing with committee members when to schedule a meeting to address the online gambling issue when the Legislature reconvenes later this week. She expects both Poulin and Fleming will be asked to attend.