Online Illinois lottery ticket sales begin Sunday
Updated: March 24, 2012 11:30PM
Beginning this weekend, Illinois will be the first state to offer lottery tickets for sale online, opening the door for a potential $100 million windfall for the state.
The pilot program that will launch about 7 a.m. Sunday will mean that bettors who play Lotto or Mega Millions can do so from the comfort of their living rooms or through their cellphones rather than standing in lines at convenience stores or gas stations.
“Everybody’s looking at us. This is technologically groundbreaking, public policy groundbreaking, and will help make the lottery hopefully become a vibrant thing in the lives of Illinoisans again,” state Lottery Supt. Michael Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times.
State lawmakers authorized the pilot program, which will last between three to four years, to help pay for Illinois’ $31 billion capital construction program that passed in 2009. It’s expected to generate as much as $100 million annually to be applied toward roadwork, school construction and other state building projects.
The online lottery experiment was delayed from the beginning when the Justice Department blocked Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration from proceeding. In December, the feds allowed the program to move forward.
So far, Lotto and Mega Millions are the only two games being offered via the Internet, though legislation is pending in the Senate that would expand that menu to include Powerball, the high-stakes, long-odds, multi-state game known for nine-digit payouts.
Anti-gambling activists worry that the state’s entry into online lottery sales will result in more gambling addiction problems.
“The problem with the Internet is it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from your home, from your cellphone, from your office,” said Anita Bedell, executive director of the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems. “Anybody could get on and get this.”
To wager, players have to live in Illinois, be at least 18 and have a credit card to pay for purchases.