Holcomb, lawmakers diverge on online lottery sales | Local

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INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb this week backed the Hoosier Lottery’s efforts to move sales online — sparking a clash with lawmakers in the final days of the legislative session.

The Hoosier Lottery was in private discussions with the state’s current outsource provider to expand to iLottery when word got out. Holcomb’s comments on Wednesday were his first on the matter.

“We’re going to continue to look at all the innovations that come out and connect with consumers. Obviously, demand is often the driver of the day. We want to make sure we do that responsibly,” he said.

Holcomb noted that lottery revenue has doubled in recent years — in part due to the state’s contract with IGT Indiana to handle much of the lottery’s operations.

“Not that it’s just Indiana state revenue,” he said. “But catering to those kinds of consumer preferences is always taken into account. So yes, we will continue to look for ways to responsibly connect with consumers.”

The lottery believes language enshrined in state law in 1989 gives it broad authority over how to sell tickets. But cell phones didn’t exist then – let alone online slot games.

Wording has been added to two bills – House Bill 1002 and Senate Bill 376. It generally states that until the General Assembly grants specific authority, the Indiana State Lotteries and Gaming Commission cannot operate or authorize the use of particular games and sales on the Internet.

GOP House Chairman Todd Huston said there are ongoing conversations about the subject. He made it clear that he thought the Lotteries Commission had done an outstanding job.

Huston noted that online lottery sales are also entwined with a desire from state casinos for a similar iGaming authority.

“We are working with the lottery commission and the administration,” he said.

Lawmakers must complete their work by March 14.

nkelly@jg.net

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