Online lottery could be coming to a state near you: NPR

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Several states – including Illinois and New York – are now moving forward with plans to offer lotteries over the Internet.

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Several states – including Illinois and New York – are moving forward with plans to offer lotteries over the Internet. This is on the heels of a Justice Department advisory that reverses a long-standing policy and declares that states are free to conduct online gambling within their borders.

The lottery issue came to the fore when the two states, both of which were moving forward with Internet lottery plans, sought clarification from the Department of Justice. The answer came two days before Christmas, when federal authorities declared that the Wire Act of 1961 – long considered a provision banning all gambling on the Internet – only prohibits sports betting.

“What this means is [that] states are now free to do just about anything they want,” says I. Nelson Rose, gambling analyst and law professor at Whittier. Rose says the Justice Department opinion was a Christmas gift from the Obama administration to cash-strapped states, which will raise hundreds of millions of dollars.

“There are over 44 lotteries in this country. They’re all looking to ‘Let’s get online immediately if we can’. They’re all looking at their state’s statutes,” Rose says.

1961 – The Interstate Wire Wager Act of 1961 prohibits betting on telecommunications systems that cross state lines or national borders.

2006 – The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 curbs the growth of online gambling by prohibiting companies from accepting payment for a bet or stake involving the use of the Internet. Online gambling sites, which previously generated around $6 billion a year from poker alone, are being driven underground.

2010 – Officials in New York and Illinois are lobbying the Justice Department to find out if existing laws could prevent them from selling lottery tickets online.

2012 – Following the call for clarification, the Department of Justice issues a lenient interpretation of the Wire Act of 1961, which states that bans on betting via telecommunications systems only apply to “gambling activities related to sports “. In effect, this means that states can allow online gambling as they see fit.

—Beenish Ahmed

Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Company; San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press

Illinois Lottery Director Michael Jones said Illinois residents should be able to purchase tickets online for Lotto and MegaMillions games in early spring and for Powerball in the near future.

“The problem here is very simple. All the state legislature wanted was for the lottery to reflect people’s buying habits with the type of retail channel that everyone uses to buy plane tickets, books and concert tickets,” Jones said.

With such a huge need for revenue, states are also wondering if the decision means they can offer other games, like online poker. It has already been legalized in Washington, DC, along with internet bingo and blackjack.

University of Illinois professor John Kindt is against such an expansion and calls the Justice Department’s opinion outrageous. He says internet gambling will take money out of the consumer economy and is like pouring gasoline on the recession. It’s a problem that will create bankruptcies, crime and new addicted players, he says.

“It will put the game in every living room, every office and every school desk,” says Kindt. “People will literally be able to click their mouse, lose their home.”

But Frank Fahrenkopf, CEO of the American Gaming Association, says protections can be put in place – and already have been in places like Britain and France, where internet gambling is allowed. .

“We’ve been able to see, with the regulatory reforms they’ve put in place, that it can be provided in a very safe way to protect underage children from online access and gambling, and you can provide, by following , a big help for those who can gamble responsibly,” says Fahrenkopf.

Farenkopf says it’s no longer a question of whether there will be Internet gambling in the United States, but how.

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