Minnesota Lawmakers Progress Online Betting Ban (update)

Lenczewski bill makes it through second House committee

Minnesota Rep. Ann Lenczewski's proposal to specifically stop any move into online betting by the state lottery (see previous InfoPowa report) has made rapid progress through two House committees, approved Thursday by the House Commerce Committee.

Lenczewski's bill, which arises from assertions by some politicians that the lottery director has exceeded his mandate in launching online operations, would prohibit the Minnesota State Lottery from selling tickets online for national lotteries, as well as instant scratch-off games that mirror the state's paper scratch-off games.

Republican state Representative Greg Davids said in supporting the move, "This is not the online lottery. This is online crack. This is addictive, and this is going to destroy families."

He was supported by Jake Grassel, representing the group Citizens Against Gambling Expansion, who said rather melodramatically: "We're going to now have gambling in every smart phone. Every iPhone. Every school, every library every Starbucks across the state."

Under its director, Ed Van Patten the Minnesota Lottery is aggressively marketing to a new audience that is younger and more tech-savvy, according to local media reports. It started offering online ticket sales several years ago, and is now testing sales in vending machines, gas pumps, ATMs and mobile devices, raising fears by critics of too easy access.

Van Petten says the lottery needs to expand in new markets if it is to be successful; early results of ticket sales at gas pumps show promise, although some retailers are worried that customers will not enter their shops, buying more goods in the process.

Van Petten claims the lottery has a mandate to set up new online games without legislative approval, and that he has kept the state governor informed on all initiatives. He advised legislators that micromanaging his lottery marketing efforts could be counterproductive.

If the legislature shuts down the online initiatives the state could lose $8 million a year, even at this early stage, he warned.

Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa

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