Online Gambling Considered by Kansas

Political decisiveness is important, says lottery director

According to Dennis Wilson, the executive director of the Kansas state lottery, the significance of the Department of Justice's change of stance on internet gambling and the Wire Act is immense.

He expressed his opinion on the matter on Jan. 11, when he urged the 2012 Legislature and Governor Sam Brownback to decide whether to allow intrastate online poker games or internet lottery ticket sales in the state; to authorize the exploration of options as numerous states are looking into expanding their respective gaming industries, introducing new levels of competition and opportunity.

In an address to the state Senate committee, he said: "We have a decision to make. We're going to have to deal with this soon. This can get real wild." He explained this by saying that 'the state could jump in with both feet by allowing virtual lottery or poker gaming,' yet he warned that sports book betting would remain off limits.

In the options presented, he included the possibility that Kansas could opt to remain on the sidelines and 'follow an isolationist policy that would prevent expansion despite reform in other states,' adding that the future of 850 state lottery ticket retailers now selling over-the-counter lottery tickets in Kansas should be one of the crucial factors in the discussion.

However, despite Wilson's enthusiasm and request for urgent action, there are those who believe otherwise. One of them is Republican Sen. Pete Brungardt, chairman of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, who assessed that Congress could adopt a law counter to the Justice Department's declaration and end debate in individual states.

"My initial reaction is, there's no hurry," he said.

Still, as other states explore the legalization possibilities, this may become a question of severe competition. The latest state to join the 'explore-the-options' crowd is Ohio, whose Lottery Commission is apparently taking a proactive stance.

According to Ohio Lottery Commission interim director Dennis Berg, 'We're exploring this topic. We want to be in the forefront of being able to generate revenue for the lottery. But it's a policy decision that we will not make on our own.'

He also specified that 'any involvement in the Internet gaming sector would only be made after consultation with the state's lawmakers and administration.'

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