Michigan Lottery Officials Ask For Funding To Go Online


Identifying internet as a major prospective boost to its business, Michigan state lottery intends to take lottery sales online with i-lottery operations starting in 2014.

The lottery officials have requested $3 million in order to take sales and games online to increase revenues destined to support public schools in the state and the current debate on the state budget has brought the request into focus.

The school fund already receives $780 million in lottery profits under the present system and, according to the predictions, internet action could provide the state education system with $8 million in the first year, with the internet revenues growing to $471 million over the following seven years.

As it stands, Illinois and Georgia already sell lottery tickets online, while Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are exploring possibilities. Accordingly, lottery spokesperson Andi Brancato said that e-commerce was a business fact of modern life, and that the state of Michigan should embrace it.

The House has agreed the funding as requested, and officials hope that opposition in the Senate can be brought onside by next month.

Hardcore Republican lawmakers are protesting that i-lottery internet wagering could be a foot in the door for legalised online gambling generally. But although a Republican, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder expressed belief that an Internet lottery will not harm convenience stores and restaurants.

Furthermore, his administration thinks it would not contradict a 2004 state constitutional amendment requiring most new gambling to be approved in a referendum at the state and local levels.

A fellow Republican who chairs the House budget sub-committee, Rep. Earl Poleski, agrees with the governor, saying: "In days of limited dollars available for (schools), it would be imprudent to not consider how to grow that revenue."

Although denying any issues with state lottery commissioner M. Scott Bowen, who suggested the initiative, Rep. Kevin Cotter has proposed legislation to prohibit online ticket sales, commenting: "It's up to us as legislators to stand up and take issue with that source of revenue.'

As currently proposed, the Senate budget includes language that would prohibit the lottery from spending any money on an i-Lottery venture.

Nevertheless, lottery officials argue Republican concerns around problem gamblers and credit card debt temptations are unfounded because geolocation and ID technologies can be used to impose safeguards, along with play limit and exclusion measures.

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