Update: Maine Online Lottery Ambitions Encounter Opposition

Still, lottery official claims the state should keep up with new developments

After the recent announcement that it plans to introduce online ticket sales not earlier than in 2013, the US state of Maine saw some opposition from retail store ticket sellers and the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway.

This week the state legislature's Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee heard evidence on the bill proposed by Sen. Debra Plowman; one of the supporters was Jerry Reed, director of the Maine Bureau of Lottery Operations, who urged committee members to support the move, advising: "Internet communications and business is a massive and rapidly moving part of our culture. States are starting to actively pursue Internet sales.'

He also added that regulations and systems should be prepared in advance: 'While our lottery revenue generation is doing reasonably well, our consumer or customer head count participation is flat to slightly down. We want to pursue this new opportunity of online gaming in the process of negotiating a new contract with our gaming system vendor.'

Yet, fierce opposition was encountered in the address of Cheryl Timberlake, a lobbyist for Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino: '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.'

In addition, Timberlake stated that 'land casinos and lottery retailers should be the ones to operate any sort of Internet sales operation and require that users establish accounts and prove they are of age to gamble.'

On behalf of Energy Marketers Association, which represents many of the 1,100 convenience stores in the state, its president Jamie Py cautioned that the Legislature should move slowly and deliberately on the issue and consult all of the stakeholders in drafting of the legislation.

It has been specified by Sen. Plowman that with this bill she did not mean to give a green light to allow Internet sales immediately, but to see the development of a proposal for the next session of the Legislature to consider.

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