6/29/10 – The launch of internet scratch card games by the state of New Hampshire’s Lottery Commission has been delayed for a month by the need to better educate state leaders on the offering.
The Union Leader reports that the state Commission has pulled back its planned July 1 launch of new games that add an Internet element to scratch ticket gambling.
In an announcement late Monday, the Commission said it "will push back the soft launch of PlayNowNH.com, and use the time to educate state leaders about its new interactive game."
The launch last week of the games met strong opposition from legislators who seemed to have difficulty differentiating between scratch card wagering and online casino activities.
Nomenclature may be at the root of the misperceptions – tickets in the lottery's new games include a $5 NHPoker game and a $3 SuperSlots game.
Lottery officials defended the new games as a fun way to extend existing scratch ticket games. Winning tickets would be determined at the time of sale and customers could launch Internet programs at home to find out if they had won, or simply check at retail outlets.
Rep. Marjorie Smith, who is chair of the Legislative Fiscal Committee, said she expects to see lottery officials apply for permission to run the new games, as state law requires.
"They perhaps got a little ahead of themselves," Smith said, pointing out that the current budget requires fiscal approval of "any new lottery programs or for the purchase of any tickets for new or continuing games."
Smith noted that the Lottery Commission has not yet won approval of the rules it submitted to a joint legislative body that clears all administrative rules.
Charles McIntyre, lottery executive director since last week, said in a statement late Monday: "The lottery is going to use the down time to educate state leaders about the new interactive game and its place in our portfolio of products.”
McIntyre said the legislature's reliance on lottery for education funding, and its concern about the reach of gambling pose, "a unique dichotomy … PlayNowNH was under development long before I took this job, but it is my responsibility to make certain that any and all lottery products are launched responsibly and transparently to public officials and the public at large."
Lottery spokesman Maura McCann said the commission will pull $25,000 in PlayNowNH advertising, and use the money to promote existing scratch games instead.