Indiana lawmakers concerned about online lottery games


INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers want to make sure they have a say in whether the Hoosier Lottery offers online gambling, and some of them are expressing concerns about it.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports the lottery is in talks with a private provider about expanding online gaming. This is an idea that the lottery has been exploring for several years.

While Indiana currently allows online sports betting, some states also offer digital lottery games.

“It’s growing rapidly,” said Kyle Anderson, an economist at the IU Kelley School of Business. “We are seeing strong growth in this area.”

“We think it’s an important part, potentially, of our future,” said Matt Bell, president and CEO of the Casino Association of Indiana. “We’ve seen states succeed with this.”

A Hoosier Lottery spokesperson sent us a statement that reads: “Changes in consumer behavior are driving many organizations like ours to identify new and innovative ways to provide options for customers to today. While no formal action has been taken, over the past few years we have researched industry innovations, including potential changes to the way our games are played.

Some worry about the potential impact, including how physical stores that sell tickets could be affected.

“We have our concerns,” said Scot Imus, executive director of the Indiana Food and Fuel Association. “Our members sell the vast majority of lottery tickets.”

Some state lawmakers want to make sure they are part of the online gambling discussion.

The Senate has added an amendment to a tax account this would require legislative approval before the Hoosier Lottery could offer online gaming.

“I’m much more concerned with giving people their money back than getting it back,” House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said. “And I just said I’d like to know the compelling reason why now.”

“We’ve been looking at gambling issues for a long time, especially with new technology and things coming up,” House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) said. “It’s really no different.”

Not everyone agrees that the legislator should be involved in the decision.

“I support everyone’s freedom to participate in online gaming,” said Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis). “Do I think the state should sanction this? No.”

And some lawmakers on both sides are concerned about online gambling itself.

“Online games in particular are likely to negatively affect communities of color,” Taylor said.

“Put on video game terminals or have something on your phone that looks or acts like a slot machine, I have a problem with that,” said Senate Pro Tempore Chairman Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville).

The bill with the amendment, House Bill 1002, is still in committee in the Senate. If the bill passes in committee, it heads to the Senate floor for a vote.


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