Attempt by lawmakers to curtail state lottery's online enterprise fails
The power struggle between Minnesota lawmakers and the state lottery management over online gambling (see previous InfoPowa reports) entered a new phase Friday when state governor Mark Dayton exercised his veto on a bill that sought to halt the online initiative in its tracks.
InfoPowa readers will recall that legislators angry about the state lottery initiating online ticket and game sales without their prior approval passed a bill in May restricting the internet enterprise despite protestations by the lottery's director that he had kept the state governor in the loop on the initiative at all times.
The bill, which was passed on the last day of the legislative session, would have done away with online instant-play lottery games and barred sales of tickets via gas pumps or ATMs. It was sent to the governor's desk for signature into state law, but has come to a standstill following the veto, reports the Star Tribune newspaper.
In a statement, the Democrat governor said he was torn between the strong message sent by lawmakers and his fear that the legislation was partly motivated by other gambling interests looking to protect their turf.
Dayton said in his veto judgment that the Minnesota Lottery has taken steps to modernise operations in response to changes in demographics and technology, and that the voters have given the lottery broad management powers.
"With all due respect… it appears to me that the Executive Director [of the lottery] is operating within the scope of his legislatively-established authority," the governor ruled.
Gov. Dayton's decision immediately provoked a response from Republican Party state Representative Joe Hoppe, who said: "In effect what the governor is saying is, it's OK for his lottery director, without consent of the Legislature … to sell lottery tickets anywhere, anyhow in the state of Minnesota.
"I don't think that's right, and I think an overwhelming majority of the Legislature agrees with me, and this will not stand."
Hoppe predicted the governor's decision will lead to a strong anti-lottery bill next session. Because the Legislature has adjourned, lawmakers can't attempt to overturn the governor's veto.
"We were more measured and more moderate, and now the governor has thrown all that out the window," Hoppe said.
In what seems to be an attempt to ease tensions on the issue, the governor urged the lottery director to re-establish relationships with lawmakers before the next Legislative session.
Dayton told reporters that although the bill passed with a sufficient majority to make it veto-proof, it had been approved as the legislative session ended, denying lawmakers the opportunity to challenge the veto.
Nevertheless, he said he wanted to give appropriate deference to lawmakers.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa