A proposal to make it easier for people to purchase Oregon Lottery tickets online from outside the United States is dividing the state’s politicians and may have contributed to the termination of the lottery’s top exec.
On June 27, a representative of UK-based online lottery reseller The Lotter pitched the Oregon Lottery Commission (OLC) on a plan to amend two rules that would make it easier for The Lotter’s international customers to purchase Oregon Lottery tickets.
The Lotter made international headlines last December after an Iraqi citizen claimed a $6.4m Megabucks jackpot that he’d purchased online via theLotter.com. The ticket was purchased from an Oregon retailer by one of The Lotter’s local agents and then resold at a 300% markup via the website.
The Iraqi national’s big payday sparked much debate over the legality of the transaction, but the state ultimately concluded that no laws had been broken. Emboldened, The Lotter is pushing to amend lottery rules to allow bulk purchases of Oregon Lottery tickets.
One of the laws in question requires ticket buyers to fill out the numbers on their lottery slips by hand. The other law limits the type of paper on which these number selections can be made.
Wilamette Week reported that former Lottery boss Jack Roberts – who was known to favor international sales – was sacked in April after two OLC directors complained that he’d temporarily changed one of the two rules without obtaining OLC approval.
The Oregon Lottery generates annual revenue of around $1.1b, second only to income tax on the state’s list of revenue sources. The Lottery also operates a raft of video poker machines, which now face competition from the new tribal casino being built just across the state line from Portland.
Darian Stanford, a local attorney representing The Lotter in its pitch to the OLC, claimed that bulk international lottery sales could help offset the estimated $65m that the new casino is expected to siphon from Oregon’s video poker business.
The Lotter currently employs ticket-buying agents in Oregon, New Jersey, New York and Florida, but the company is looking to consolidate its US operations by putting down permanent roots in Oregon. However, Stanford warned that, if the OLC rejects The Lotter’s online overture, “my instruction are to start looking to take it elsewhere.”