The US multi-state Mega Millions lottery failed to produce a winner Tuesday night, meaning Friday’s jackpot will rollover into an estimated $476m – the largest in Mega Millions history. That sum could rise even higher by Friday, as half-billion dollar jackpots tend to bring out even those people who normally don’t play the lottery, which has always struck us as odd; like, the chance of winning $100m isn’t worth your dollar, but half a billion? Well, that’s different. Er, if you say so. Regardless, we’d be remiss if we failed to point out that your odds of earning the big score are one in 176m, while the odds of a US citizen being struck by lightning are only one in 2.65m.
The Illinois Lottery couldn’t have picked a better time to launch its first-in-the-nation online lottery ticket sales option. First day sales on Sunday were a mere $15k, but Lottery reps expect the pace will quicken this week as jackpot fever grows hotter and the lines at the convenience store terminals grow longer. Some Bloomington retailers told local news outlet WJBC that there’d been no appreciable downturn in their retail sales since Sunday, while others questioned the level of awareness of the online sales among their regular clientele.
Illinois may have been first out of the gate with its online lottery program, but other states are keen to get in on the game. On Tuesday, Delaware Online reported that Secretary of Finance Tom Cook has briefed the state’s key political figures of a plan to offer online lottery ticket sales, as well as online slots, poker and casino games. The Delaware Lottery would handle the ticket sales (including scratch-off tickets) via its website, while the poker and casino games would be accessible via the websites of the state’s three land-based casinos (although the actual game play would be controlled by a centralized state-controlled system).
Cook said the plan would initially permit only Delaware residents to wager online, but the ultimate aim would be some kind of interstate relationship. Cook estimated the online lottery ticket sales would reap $900k in annual revenues for the state. The state would also keep 100% of the first $3.75m of profits from the online casino games. Anything above that would be split with the casinos and the state’s horseracing industry via the same formula the state currently applies to casino table game profits. Legislation tentatively titled the Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 is to be introduced sometime next week.
Yet another state asserting its rights to offer online gambling within its borders won’t sit well with the federal regulation backers at Astroturf/’grass roots’ lobby group FairPlayUSA. The organization recently circulated a letter written to party leaders in Congress by the National Fraternal Order of Police, who predict anarchy on a scale just shy of the End Times if the feds don’t beat states to the regulatory finish line. Problem is, while FairPlayUSA and its law enforcement ilk are writing letters, states are writing legislation. Talk about bringing a knife to a gun fight.