Just like most things in life, there will be opposition, but that’s not going to stop the state of Michigan from trying to take their lottery business online. They, like a lot of other politician’s in the US see the Internet as the new frontier for gaming and it’s eyeing the potential revenue and tax dollars as a big plus from the new venture. One of the main reasons to go online will be to gather up all the added dollars and put them to use at local schools.
The brand they want to launch in 2014 will be called “iLottery” and the Governor, Rick Snyder and his administration are looking for $3 million to launch the product. Currently, the state legislature is now in the process of setting next year’s budget and this is one of the big issues they are debating.
Some of the lawmakers think that an online lottery in the state will increase gambling addiction and have an impact by reducing sales at the retail outlets where people are now buying the tickets. Michigan much like many other state lotteries are making their move to online ever since the Department of Justice claimed that they are all essentially exempt from the 1961 wire act and they can sell anything as long as it does not include sports wagering.
At this point in time is seems as if the Republican led legislature is split on what do about putting in the money, but even if it does pass the Senate has plans to reject it. Gov. Rick Synder realizes that they must begin to sell tickets online in order to stay relevant, up with the times and in sync with consumer purchase patterns. They will know by May on if they will be the budget approved or not. It will be a good thing for the schools of Michigan if it’s approved.
They are estimating if they make the investment into the online lottery offering to consumers they could potentially put an additional $8 million into schools. It was a record setting year in 2012 for the government, as revenue from the state lottery has injected up to $780 million into schools. If they go online this number would grow to an additional $471 million in just under seven years. They realize that people want the option to purchase tickets online, after all that is where the future is going for the lottery business and they recognize it, "You can buy almost anything you want on the Internet now. We really should not be any different," said lottery spokeswoman Andi Brancato.
Michigan Lottery Commissioner M. Scott Bowen is keen to get this passed and start the move to online purchases as his job is too make sure there’s an increase in profits and he know that this is a great way to do it. That’s why last January, the state lottery set it out for tender so technology companies can bid on getting the business to bring them online. The companies that are interested are looking to provide the full service that would include supporting a complete online system including all the games.
You can bet there is continued opposition to this proposal, as some lawmakers think the state lottery is heading into the wrong direction and believe consumers shouldn’t be able to make the decision whether or not they prefer to buy tickets online. "It's alarming that the state would be leading the charge in online gambling. State-sponsored, wherever-you-are-gambling on a credit card — that just doesn't pass the smell test for me," said Rep. Kevin Cotter, a Mount Pleasant Republican.
It’s the lottery officials who need to convince the opposition that any concerns about gambling addiction and people racking up credit cards can be controlled easily with sophisticated technology that can restrict how much people can play. Right now there are several companies in gaming that can do this with proven technology and one of them specifically, Secure Trading Inc. has even been approved to operate in the state of Nevada.
Michigan’s lawmakers haven’t decided yet how exactly the iLotter would work and it has yet to be determined which games they would offer. They do know that if it launches, it will be the lottery tickets that would be the first to go on sale. Now Michigan will just have to wait and see if they take advantage of the online lottery potential and approve the budget to get it going on the fast track to launch in 2014.