Calls grow for online lottery sales in the US

by William Brown Last Updated
Kentucky Lottery offers prize to the COVID-19 vaccinated

Lottery operators in the United States are rallying their state officials to allow online ticket sales as a new normal after less people are walking into agencies.

Casino Review reports that after helping many national lotteries around the world go digital over the past few months, Ade Repcenko, chief executive officer of Spinola Gaming, believes that an upgrade to online sales is indeed the only way forward for the US lottery sector.

Over the past few months, only a handful of states were able to legally offer digital lottery ticket sales during their respective lockdowns: Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Virginia.

Many of these states revealed they had experienced a surge in online ticket sales, with New Hampshire registering a 38 per cent jump in first-time online players during this period.

All other states require players to purchase a lottery ticket in person from a retail outlet and all saw sales and revenues tumble dramatically during the pandemic.

Despite a desire to go digital now shared among many lottery figures nationwide, state operators still require regulatory changes to take place before they can make the shift.

Unless these regulatory changes happen fast, the US market will lag behind Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin American, who already allow legal online lottery sales.

Director of Oregon State Lottery Barry Pack said retailers in Oregon lost 70 per cent of their customers due to the lockdown.

“The recovery from this pandemic is going to force a digital transformation in our industry a whole lot more quickly than we might normally have seen it come,” he said.

“When the legislature reconvenes next week, they’re facing a billion-dollar shortfall.

“Their opinions about mobile gaming will change. I think there will be less resistance.”

Director of Maryland Lottery Gordon Medenica said: “We’ve been pushing a digital transformation and online selling ever since I’ve been in this industry, over the past 10 to 15 years,” he said.

“In Maryland, they passed a law three years ago banning sales on the internet.

“I think we’ll see a dramatic change and I’m looking forward to it.”

Rhode Island lottery tug of war continues

A major competitor in the worldwide gambling market has jumped back into the Smith Hill debate over a proposed no-bid, 20-year lottery contract for International Game Technology with an offer to give the state a better deal.

Providence Journal reported in July that IGT pushed back on Monday against the effort by the Las Vegas-based Scientific Games to regain a piece of Rhode Island’s gambling business – instant tickets – that it lost in 2017.

IGT chairman Robert Vincent also pushed back against critics saying the reworked legislation up for a hearing at the State House “weakens” the definition of the kinds of jobs that would count toward IGT’s 1,100-job commitment to Rhode Island.

Rather than weakening the bill, Mr Vincent said the added language “tightens” it, by reflecting the way IGT’s current contract has been interpreted since 2005, including, for example, the full-time contract employees in the company’s print shop.

He provided a copy of the development agreement the company, then known as GTECH, had with the state’s Economic Development Corporation.

More than 1000 jobs created by IGT

Signed on January 4, 2005, it included in the definition of qualifying employees, “employees of outsourcing and consulting service providers and temporary employees retained through an employment agency in the state.”

“Let’s go back to the beginning,” Mr Vincent said.

“The timing for this deal could not be any more important than it is today. There aren’t many companies here in Rhode Island that are knocking on the door looking to guarantee 1,100 jobs, good-paying jobs at significant salaries … and a presence in Providence.

Putting the contract in financial context, IGT derived more than $45.2 million from its Rhode Island Lottery contracts during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

That includes $5.6 million from its role in providing instant scratch tickets, and the video-slot and sports wagering activity at the two casinos.

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