Industry Reports

North Carolina Puts Online Lottery Expansion on Hold Amid Looming Opposition

At the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission’s regular quarterly meeting that took place on Tuesday this week, officials discussed the possibility to further expand the online sales by allowing North Carolina’s lottery to offer online scratch-off instant win lottery tickets. According to reliable sources, the talks have broken off quickly as traditional lottery retailers and social conservatives expressed their concerns regarding the possible expansion of online sales. The opponents of the “digital instants” explained that the online scratch-off instant tickets are disturbingly similar to the sweepstakes games, which are illegal in North Carolina.

The Commission, that consists of nine members, was supposed to vote yesterday on the new online games, but the plan was changed after traditional lottery retailers and social conservatives recommended the Commission to adopt a more careful approach regarding the online instant scratch-off tickets.

The opposition argued that the “digital instants” are similar to video sweepstakes games, which are prohibited throughout the state. They took the opportunity to remind of the frantic efforts that the state’s lawmakers have invested to weed out the provision of sweepstakes games. The lobbyists also explained that the online scratch-off instant tickets may hurt locally-run traditional lottery operators.

N.C. Family Policy Council President John Rustin also supported the opposition’s stance on the matter. In a letter to the state’s commissioners, Mr. Rustin pointed out that the online lottery expansion may lead to more gambling-related problems. Experts even believe that the online scratch-off instant tickets might enhance children’s exposure to gambling, as the new generation has a free access to Internet-supplied devices, which is enough to reach any online gambling website.

North California Mulls Online Lottery Expansion

Lia Nower, director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University announced that the online lottery expansion is less likely to cannibalize lottery revenues, as the two activities target different groups of people. She specified that the older population from the lower socio-economic is more interested in the traditional lottery tickets, while the younger people tend to prefer online games. Commission Chairman Courtney Crowder explained that the idea is not scrapped, but just postponed. He explained that the Commission would like to consider the opposition’s viewpoint before taking a decision.

In February 2014, Minnesota made the headlines after the state has become the first to allow online scratch-off instant win lottery tickets. Afterwards, two other states followed Minnesota’s footsteps and allowed the provision of such online games. It should be admitted that the online lottery expansion in these three states brought certain economic benefits. Supposing that North Carolina thumbs up the online lottery expansion, an outside performance audit of North Carolina’s lottery projected that the state can reap approximately $130 million over five years.