The Minnesota Lottery’s pioneering use of online scratch-off tickets got a reprieve on Tuesday after state legislators displayed a rare glimpse of restraint in bringing down the ban hammer. In February, Minnesota became the first US state lottery to offer online instant win tickets via the Lottery’s website. Lottery officials justified the move as both a promotional tool to boost retail sales and a bid to lower the median age of the average lottery player, which was veering dangerously close to Methuselah territory.
But state legislators immediately rose up in opposition, claiming the online Spicy 7’s online scratchers were too reminiscent of online slot machines. Legislators outdid themselves accusing the Lottery of (a) overstepping its mandate and (b) conspiring to lure Minnesota’s youth into fiery pits of damnation. Late last month, the state Senate voted to ban all online Lottery sales – be they scratchers or run-of-the-mill draw tickets – by a margin of 55-2.
Several House committees had also voted in favor of a ban. But on Tuesday, the full House opted to strip the anti-online Lottery provision from a broader gambling measure, for the time being, at least. Despite the reprieve, the issue is likely to resurface before the current legislative session ends on May 19.
Meanwhile, way down south, Scientific Games Corporation has expanded its deal with the Loteria Nacional de Beneficencia of Panama to offer the nation’s first online lottery game. Pega 3, a standard Pick 3 game, will make its online debut in June. Loteria director Ricardo Brooks said Pega 3 was the result of the company’s constant pursuit of “new ways to respond to our players and deliver the excitement of lottery with a high level of trust and integrity.” Hear that, Minnesota? You’re in danger of becoming less progressive than Panama.