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Online Lottery Tickets Come to Illinois

26 March 2012 by Devon Chappell

In recent months, legislators across this country have been debating the benefits of legalizing online gambling.  Advocates have consistently cited increased tax revenues and the ability to regulate the industry as solid reasons to make the move towards legalization.  Groups that oppose the idea often suggest that revenues might not be as juicy as some think, and, ultimately, the major result would be an increase in gambling addicts.

While there are a growing number of states that seem to be on their way to initiating online gambling programs of one kind or another, until now, there hasn’t been one state in the U.S. to actually pull the trigger and put one in place.  As of Sunday, though, residents of the state of Illinois will be able to purchase lottery tickets online – provided they are of legal age, and within the state’s borders while doing so.

It may not seem like such a big deal, considering how commonplace it has become to purchase things online these days – but seeing as no other state has yet to put this simple measure into place, this move certainly has its significance.  In fact, it is likely that Illinois’s decision to take their lottery to cyberspace will now impact at least some of the debates, regarding online gambling, that are raging on at the moment in other states.

There are a number of reasons to believe that Illinois will be successful in this endeavor – which will, of course, only lead to more states following suit.  For one thing, the Illinois Lottery seems to be going to great lengths to prevent an increase in gambling addiction from being a result of this program.  It has even been suggested that by selling tickets online, the state may be in a better position to prevent individuals from purchasing lottery tickets excessively.

Michael Jones, the Illinois Lottery superintendent told The Huffington Post, “On the Internet, we will have, for the first time ever, the ability to monitor and stop people from playing too much.  Right now I can’t stop anybody from walking into a convenience store and spending all their money on tickets. Within the system we are going to have, we will know how much people are spending on the lottery.”

If someone wants to purchase Lotto or Mega Millions lottery tickets online, they will have to provide certain information in order to demonstrate they qualify to do so.  Social Security numbers will be used to verify the age of a potential ticket purchaser.  The Illinois Lottery will use software that tracks where purchases are being made from so as to prevent anyone from buying tickets outside of the state’s borders.  And to assure that only residents of Illinois are purchasing tickets, a home address will be required from anyone attempting to purchase a ticket.

As part of their effort to combat gambling addiction, the state may limit the number of tickets that can be purchased on any one drawing by an individual.  An across the board limit of this kind would most likely be easier than it would be to keep track of how many tickets a particular person is purchasing within a given period of time – though the statements that Jones made to the Huffington Post indicate the Illinois Lottery is at least considering monitoring individuals in that way.

In order to increase the number of lottery tickets that are actually being purchased, without relying on people that are already buying tickets to simply buy more, the state intends to broaden the customer base by utilizing the Internet’s ability to reach such a large number of people.  This will most likely require a new approach in terms of the state’s advertising strategy for lottery tickets, but if implemented correctly, Illinois should see a significant increase in tax revenue that can then be used for critical programs like education and infrastructure.

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