Minnesota House Votes Against Lottery's Expansion Online (update)

State representatives in the House join the Senate in nixing online games and gas pump sales

In what has become a political rather than practical battle in the Minnesota Legislature, House representatives have joined their Senate counterparts in voting 126-2 for a bill halting the state lottery's expansion into online gaming (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Comments by politicians after the vote illustrate the real reason for the reversal of a successful state enterprise – political anger at not being asked for approval before the project launched two years ago.

Sen. Carla Nelson characterised the move online with scratch cards as "overreach by the administration," whilst Rep. Greg Davids said, "Politically, we pinned their ears back. The lottery needs to have some controls, some safeguards."

The bill, which allows online ticket sales but bans other online games along with gas pump and ATM sales, was originally rejected by the House but supported by the Senate. That meant that a joint conference committee had to be convened to hammer out a compromise.

That was achieved late last week, leaving online ticket sales intact but little else, and the Senate immediately voted 56-5 in favour before returning the bill to the House for a final vote.

State Gov. Mark Dayton will now have to come off the fence on which he appeared to be sitting and either veto the bill or sign it into state law – a move that could cost the state millions of dollars.

The lottery management has consistently claimed that it was acting within its mandate to expand online and had kept the governor briefed throughout the successful process. Dayton has been careful in his use of language on the issue, but appeared to be broadly supportive of the online venture.

Some representatives expressed reservations over the weekend on the reversal, with Rep. Rick Hansen observing that the Legislature is still going to have to grapple with how the lottery and other state operations adapt to changing technology.

"We're kind of reactive and going from one end to the other," he observed, noting that sometimes lawmakers demand that agencies put things online, yet other times object when they display initiative and launch internet enterprises for the state.

Last year, the Minnesota state lottery generated $135 million for environmental and other state programs.

Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa

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