Hoosier Lottery watching Illinois' online sales

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What if all that stood between you and the chance to win millions of dollars, maybe hundreds of millions was a few key strokes and a mouse click?

"Having a computer is easy access right there," said Valerie Jones, who plays the lottery everyday.

Jones admits she hopes it never happens, the ability to buy lottery tickets online with a credit card, because that would make what she calls her lottery ticket habit even worse.

"I think it would be bad," Jones said.

That's one of the issues the Hoosier Lottery will be looking at after Illinois became the first state to move to online sales.

"We have an obligation to maximize the revenue for this state and, as a result, we have to look at every possible sales channel," said Al Larson with the Hoosier Lottery.

Larson says Hoosier Lottery will talk to the governor, retailers who sell tickets and gambling experts before making a decision. To move to online sales, though, does not require any legislative action, just the approval from the five-member lottery commission.

Larson says there's no definite time table for a decision.

"Bottom line, it's the state's making money," said finance professor Rachel Smith from the University of Indianapolis. "I think its just inevitable."

The state's gain could mean a loss for stores that sell lottery tickets. If people aren't going out to buy into their dreams of wealth, that's at least one less trip they're making to buy gum, cigarettes or a Diet Coke.

"Possibly even a loss of jobs from those retailers that lose revenue, which then have to lay off individuals because of the loss of revenue," Smith said.

There's also the potential of racking up credit card debt in hopes of a big payoff.

"Credit cards are easy to pay with and you don't have to think about the consequences," said Daryn Fair, who only plays the lottery when the jackpot's a big one.

What if the consequences, though, mean you've got the winning ticket?

"I think my chance is just as good as anyone else's," said Jones.

That's why, if lottery tickets go on sale online in Indiana, Jones will be firing up her computer and getting out her credit card, hoping maybe this time, she'll be a winner.

From the Associated Press

Indiana lottery officials are keeping their eye on an Illinois effort to sell lottery tickets online.

The Hoosier Lottery hasn't started formally looking at online sales, but spokesman Al Larsen told The Journal Gazette that they'll consider it depending on how the program in Illinois works out.

"We have been monitoring everything," Larsen said. "When you get down to it, we have an obligation to maximize revenue for Hoosier taxpayers, so we have to look at all sales channels."

Larsen said the lottery wouldn't need approval from the state legislature, just from the five-member lottery commission. But Larsen said the group would talk to Gov. Mitch Daniels to get feedback before making any proposals and would also consult with store owners who sell lottery tickets.

On Sunday, Illinois began selling tickets online for the multistate Mega Millions game and its state lottery. It's the first state to try an online program.

The system in Illinois sets up a direct deposit account for players with winnings of less than $600. Those who win more than that will receive email notification that they've won. Players will also be able to set up subscriptions for automatic wagers.

"I would imagine it will be very attractive to other states," Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones said. "It's a fantastic way to broaden the player base."

They've also set up several protections to keep out-of-state or underage players from buying tickets, including Internet protocol address checks and requiring players to give their name, address, Social Security number and date of birth at registration.

Scott Imus, executive director of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said online sales could potentially take customers out of traditional stores. He hoped that if Indiana enacted an online system, it would at least require winners to cash in their tickets at a store.

Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said he isn't sure whether the legislature would want to get involved with the debate but that an online program would be worth review.

"I've gotten a sense in recent years that there's not a real appetite for expansion of gambling in the legislature," he said. "On the other hand, we're certainly competing against these other states. We're obviously a gaming state. But once you've started, where do you draw the line?"

Information from: The Journal Gazette

(Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)