‘Enough room in the sandbox’ for an often misunderstood online lottery

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Horse racing aficionados have been betting on races online for over a decade. Sports bettors in dozens of states have tried their luck since the Supreme Court ended Nevada’s virtual monopoly in May 2018. Online casino games only operate in half a dozen states, but many lawmakers have noticed that operators in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan cleared more than $100 million in revenue by month and by state for the past two years.

But the online lottery is often overlooked – and even misunderstood.

Illinois and Georgia launched online lottery gambling a decade ago, a year before Nevada legalized online poker in 2013, while New Jersey and Delaware allowed online casino gambling at all levels.

On Saturday, iLottery got its 60 minutes in the sun. A panel on the topic was held in Boston at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States’ three-day conference (NCLGS).

The general feeling from the panel was that many legislators either don’t like the lottery or don’t understand it – and even lottery supporters sometimes mistakenly believe it should be protected from “online competition” that would be overseen by the same lottery officials who regulate convenience store sales.

Ted Lasso and Real Housewives walk into the room

May Scheve Reardon, executive director of the Missouri Lottery since 2009, told the audience that her previous twelve years in the state House of Representatives had prepared her well for what she might face in her new role. She recalled a former colleague and lawmaker once telling her, “You know, once in a while, it’s just good to play the lottery.”

Scheve Reardon added that other lawmakers see the lottery as “the Ted Lasso of state agencies” – meaning they find it “clumsy”, at least on the face of it.

Missouri has yet to pass online lottery legislation, and the director said there’s a reason almost unique to that state: term limits that send lawmakers after a maximum of eight years to the House and the same in the State Senate. In just over a dozen years, she says, Missouri has had three governors, eight Speakers of the House and six heads of the state Senate.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey have a more cohesive cast than us,” joked Scheve Reardon. “Therese [Guidice]she knocked over a table [in an infamous scene in 2009]and she still has a role.

With just 4.5 months in session a year to craft a nearly $50 billion budget, Scheve Reardon said state lawmakers have little time to focus on issues like considering new products such as iLottery. And just as some lawmakers have begun to fully grasp the possibilities, it’s time for them to leave the state house thanks to these term limits.

But she warned that complacency is likely to be detrimental, saying she has sometimes felt at the helm of a taxi business that “got fooled” by unexpected new competition for passengers.

“Now we’re going to get Uber-ed, if we don’t start selling Powerball online in all jurisdictions,” Scheve Reardon added of the multi-million dollar lottery game which is only available directly through the state lotteries in a few states. , such as the pioneers of Illinois and Georgia.

Already, “courier service” lottery companies have sprung up online to fill this void, including jack pocket – which is officially licensed in New York and New Jersey and not specifically banned from selling lottery tickets online in up to two dozen other states.

“But many consumers aren’t aware of these options,” Scheve Reardon said. “If I only had a dollar for every time someone came up to me and said, ‘I forgot to play Powerball, I couldn’t go to the store,’ then I wouldn’t need to play Powerball.”

Cannibalization of lottery revenue is a myth, panelists say

With a decade of data now available on states offering both physical tickets and iLottery, panelists agreed the verdict fell on cannibalization issues.

“The idea that [iLottery sales] will hurt the retail lottery is a failed argument,” said Greg Smith, president and CEO of the Connecticut Lottery Corp., whose state launched online sales in October amid a record 1 $.5 billion in traditional lottery ticket sales last year.

Beth Bresnahan, vice president of communications for Scientific Games, cited research showing that the average age of an iLottery player is 47, compared to 55 for traditional players. Additionally, retail lottery stores in the United States grew by 20% in 2021, while lotteries in all 12 states with supposed iLottery competition saw a combined retail sales increase of 33%.

Bresnahan said iLottery “attracts new players and raises awareness of lotteries. There’s enough room in the sandbox for everyone to play.

Panel moderator Shawn Fluharty, a delegate to the West Virginia Legislative Assembly, recommended that lawmakers hear from state lottery officials who support iLottery as a supplement rather than “a mercenary who is a lobbyist.” paid”.

Several panelists also pointed to the fact that most state budgets are currently teeming with cash thanks to emergency funding from the federal government due to the two-year COVID crisis, which means lawmakers may be able to balance budgets without raising taxes. Once that “honeymoon” was over, they suggested that iLottery could attract a more receptive audience in many states.

Julin Shaw, an executive at NeoPollard Interactive – which runs New Hampshire’s online lottery – quoted Charlie McIntyre, the state’s top lottery official, as saying, “Upgrade or die.”

Image: Shutterstock

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