Wednesday June 26,2013 : MICHIGAN PUTS ONLINE LOTTERY PLANS ON HOLD (Update)
Lawmakers block funding for online operations scheduled for early 2014
Plans by the Michigan state lottery to launch online tickets sales and games in early 2014 have been derailed by state lawmakers, who have blocked some $3.4 million in funding needed for the initiative.
"Plans for an iLottery system have been suspended so that the Lottery may further evaluate the program," lottery spokeswoman Andi Brancato told The Associated Press Tuesday, declining further comment.
Earlier this year Gov. Rick Snyder asked for nearly $3.4 million in the next state budget to implement the iLottery as a way to fund education plans and move the lottery forward with the times. The initial plan allowed for the employment of a modest 10 staff complement.
However, the Republican-led state legislature has blocked the funding, citing concerns about increased gambling addiction, personal debt and potential competition to retail ticket outlets in convenience stores.
The iLottery evaluation program has now been extended "indefinitely", although its proponents may still be able to create the iLottery after the internal review by spending other money in the lottery budget.
"If they wanted to do it, they still could," Rep. Kevin Cotter – a Republican who wants to ban any move online by the lottery – told the Associated Press.
"Additional revenue is a good thing for the lottery because that funds schools," he said. "My concern is that with iLottery, it would allow them to put all their games online. My biggest concerns are with scratch-off games as well as Club Keno. Both of those games online would be very transactional, like a slot machine, one game after another."
Cotter said he is less concerned with people buying Powerball or Daily 4 tickets online because he sees that as more a matter of convenience.
"This is really state-sponsored, wherever-you-are gambling. People could be at work, could be at home," he said. "They could be gambling away the home they're sitting in. State government shouldn't be blazing the trail on this."
Lottery officials have in the past pointed out that concerns about gambling addiction and racking up debt on a credit card are exaggerated because Internet and software technology can restrict how much people play. Players could pre-authorise the lottery to cut them off once they hit caps on spending, they claim.
Illinois and Georgia sell lottery tickets online, whilst several other states are exploring possibilities