Illinois plans to take its lottery online within the coming months – a move which could bring in millions more in revenue to the cash-strapped state, but which has also attracted very negative attention by gambling opponents.
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An online lottery could attract up to 500,000 more players to the Mega Moolah game alone, for example, when the pot reaches over $100 million and since this happens up to 40 times a year, the rewards for the state are great. For every Mega Moolah ticket sold, Illinois bags 42c – and it all adds up very quickly. On every instant ticket sold, Illinois gets 25c.
In 2009, the Illinois legislature approved a test program that would incorporate Mega Moolah and Lotto games online. However, the state needed to wait until it got the all-clear on a federal level, and this came just before Christmas through the Department of Justice’s now famous opinion statement.
A pilot program, which may also include Powerball ticket sales, will begin in March or April this year and run for three or four years. Tickets will only be sold to residents of Illinois over the age of 18, and they can be purchased with a credit card. Tickets purchased at retail stores or gas stations will need to be paid for in cash, as has been the policy up until now. There will also be a cap placed on the amount that players can spend, although it hasn’t been determined just yet.
Opponents to the online lottery system include Jerry Prosapio, co-founder of the group, Gambling Exposed. “We’re very troubled by it [an online lottery],” he said. “Any new form of legalized gambling has brought more addiction and with the addiction it brings additional bankruptcies and crimes.”