The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois has been slapped with a $25k fine for sending promotional materials to people who’d placed themselves on the state’s gambling self-exclusion list. Rivers GM Bill Keena told the Chicago Tribune that the violations happened by accident and that the casino had reported the incidents themselves once they were discovered.
Still, not great timing, considering Illinois becomes the first US state to offer single-ticket lottery sales over the internet this Sunday. One of the main arguments against such a scheme is the theory that not having to drag one’s ass down to the local convenience store to pick up a Lotto or Mega Millions ticket will somehow produce more gambling addicts. Frankly, given Chicago’s reputation for excessive intake of deep-dish pizza and Polish sausage, not having to schlep one’s supersized ass down to the store may prevent countless heart attacks. (One boneheaded theory deserves another, right?)
On the plus side, the Illinois Lottery’s first week of online sales will benefit immensely from an already burgeoning Mega Millions jackpot that was rolled over on Friday, leading to an estimated $356m prize for Tuesday night’s drawing. Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones told USA Today that only 9-12% of Illinois adults regularly play the lottery, but we expect the combo of a nine-digit payday and easier access to tickets could bump that number significantly higher, if only for this week. Lottery retailers, meanwhile, will be monitoring Tuesday’s draw to see if the online sales are cutting into their business.
FAIRPLAYUSA MEETS ITS STATE LOTTERY NEMESIS
In the same USA Today article, American Gaming Association prez Frank Fahrenkopf restated his call for federal regulations re online gaming. Whatever your feelings re the AGA, you’ve got to give Fahrenkopf credit for never missing an opportunity to get his side’s message out. For US casino firms, federal regulation of online gambling is preferable than regulation on a state-by-state basis, which is why Fahrenkopf pushes the federal message. Unlike the Astroturf-clad superheroes from ‘grassroots’ organization FairPlayUSA, who claim to be acting from a purely altruistic crime-fighting, mom-and-apple-pie-protecting, Justice League of America perspective while simultaneously cashing checks from MGM and Caesars Entertainment. (FairPlayUSA principal Louis Freeh even helps Wynn Resorts purge its ranks of undesirables when it suits Steve Wynn’s purposes.)
But just like every superhero has a nemesis, FairPlayUSA may have met its match in the Lottery Players Alliance (LPA). The exec director of the LPA is Paul Jason, who serves in a similar capacity at the Public Gaming Research Institute, an advocacy group on behalf of state lotteries worldwide. Suffice it to say, the ‘P’ in LPA should really stand for Providers, but fair do’s. If FairPlayUSA can pretend to represent players, so can the LPA.
Officially, the LPA’s mission statement is to “promote responsible legislation and regulations to serve the interests of players and the general public alike.” Lest anyone be confused, the legislation the LPA deems ‘responsible’ comes from a state, rather than federal, source. “Legislation currently being considered in Washington would impose federal regulations on Internet gambling that favor commercial casinos to the detriment of state lotteries and players. Now, more than ever, lottery players and stakeholders need lawmakers to defend their interests against commercial lobbyists pushing this legislation.”
The LPA’s emergence has us wondering if there’s a little known lottery equivalent of the 2+2 online poker forums, in which lottery ‘players’ gather to bitch about bad beats (winning the jackpot, but having to share it with 12 other winning tickets) and have spirited debates as to how hot ‘pro’ player Joan Rae Ginther may or may not be. Perhaps there’s even a lottery version of Daniel Negreanu (Kid Lotto?), who posts lengthy video rants about how the people running the Nigerian Lottery are total fucking scammers who deserve to have their anal cavities stuffed with giant lottery balls. Seriously, if there isn’t such a site, there ought to be.